Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


I-call - When microimplants communicate with each other / Innovation driver digitization - "Smart Health“


Microelectronics as a key technology enables numerous innovations in the field of intelligent medical technology. The Fraunhofer Institute for Biomedical Engineering IBMT coordinates the BMBF cooperative project "I-call" realizing the first electronic system for ultrasound-based, safe and interference-resistant data transmission between implants in the human body.

When microelectronic systems are used for medical applications, they have to meet high requirements in terms of biocompatibility, reliability, energy consumption and integration capability.

Ultrasonic-based signal transmission of implants in the human Body.

© Fraunhofer IBMT

In many cases, diverse and heterogeneous components such as sensor and actuator assemblies as well as components for signal processing, communication and energy generation interact to create the technological basis for improved patient care.

At the beginning of 2018, the BMBF cooperative project "I-call – Microelectro-mechanical system for acoustic communication between implants", coordinated by the Fraunhofer Institute for Biomedical Engineering IBMT, started.

"I-call" aims at developing the first electronic system for ultrasound-based, multi-channel, safe and interference-resistant signal and data transmission between implants in the human body. So-called capacitive micro-machined ultrasonic transducers (cMUTs), as known from ultrasound-based imaging, generate and detect high-frequency ultrasonic signals that can propagate over long distances in the body.

These highly miniaturized transducers can be integrated directly into the circuits (ASICs) used. In addition to the custom-made cMUTs for wireless communication and special ASICs that drive the cMUTs and process the ultrasound signals, the “I-call" consortium is developing communication protocols for communication via ultrasound. To compensate for interference caused by noise and echoes, "I-call" uses a method of acoustic communication that mimics the "singing" of dolphins and whales.

The signal energy is distributed over a wide frequency range by a continuous frequency change and converted back into narrow-band signals at the receiver. The cMUTs, known as particularly broadband ultrasonic transducers, are ideally suited for this method.

Even though the cMUTs made of silicon are biocompatible per se and thus suitable for implantation, unlike established ultrasonic transducers, they are primarily used in a hermetic metal housing (e.g. made of titanium) and are thus protected against damage.

Various housing geometries and methods for sound coupling are being investigated and further developed with regard to their suitability to guarantee a long-term stable, biocompatible signal transmission. This is particularly important for increasing the performance of neuroprostheses, since in this area several implant units transmit large data streams in parallel.

Implantable systems with distributed intelligence

The Fraunhofer IBMT contributes its long-time expertise in the development of biomedical microsystems and ultrasonic transducers and is responsible for the simulation and realization of cMUTs in bulk micromechanics as well as their characterization. In addition, the scientists and engineers are developing the implant electronics and the firmware necessary for controlling the implant communication.

With this innovative technological approach, future implantable systems with distributed intelligence will become possible. The use of highly integrated cMUTs in implants and their ultrasound-compatible housing are particularly forward-looking. The use of ultrasound for communication is excellently suited for use in the body, which consists mainly of water, and offers advantages over communication with electromagnetic signals, such as a long range in the body despite its small size, practically no attenuation due to a titanium housing, and a high degree of security against eavesdropping.

Fraunhofer Institute for Biomedical Engineering IBMT, Sulzbach/Saar, Germany

Partners (Germany)
PREMA Semiconductor GmbH, Mainz
EvoLogics GmbH, Berlin
microFab Service GmbH, Bremen
OSYPKA AG, Rheinfelden
PlascoTec GmbH, Wuppertal

Funding: BMBF 16ES0752K
Funding period: 01/2018-12/2020
Funding volume: € 3.74 million

Wissenschaftliche Ansprechpartner:

Prof. Dr. Klaus-Peter Hoffmann
Project Manager, Head of Main Department Biomedical Engineering
Fraunhofer Institute for Biomedical Engineering IBMT
66280 Sulzbach/Saar, Germany
Phone: +49 6897 9071 400

Dr. Thomas Velten
Project Coordinator, Head of Department Biomedical Microsystems
Phone: +49 6897 9071 450

Weitere Informationen:

Dipl.-Phys. Annette Maurer-von der Gathen | Fraunhofer-Institut für Biomedizinische Technik IBMT

More articles from Medical Engineering:

nachricht First COVID-19 Patient in Germany successfully treated with novel Diaphragm Therapy
10.07.2020 | Universität Greifswald

nachricht Restoring Vision Through Electrical Stimulation
09.07.2020 | Universität Zürich

All articles from Medical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: The spin state story: Observation of the quantum spin liquid state in novel material

New insight into the spin behavior in an exotic state of matter puts us closer to next-generation spintronic devices

Aside from the deep understanding of the natural world that quantum physics theory offers, scientists worldwide are working tirelessly to bring forth a...

Im Focus: Excitation of robust materials

Kiel physics team observed extremely fast electronic changes in real time in a special material class

In physics, they are currently the subject of intensive research; in electronics, they could enable completely new functions. So-called topological materials...

Im Focus: Electrons in the fast lane

Solar cells based on perovskite compounds could soon make electricity generation from sunlight even more efficient and cheaper. The laboratory efficiency of these perovskite solar cells already exceeds that of the well-known silicon solar cells. An international team led by Stefan Weber from the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPI-P) in Mainz has found microscopic structures in perovskite crystals that can guide the charge transport in the solar cell. Clever alignment of these "electron highways" could make perovskite solar cells even more powerful.

Solar cells convert sunlight into electricity. During this process, the electrons of the material inside the cell absorb the energy of the light....

Im Focus: The lightest electromagnetic shielding material in the world

Empa researchers have succeeded in applying aerogels to microelectronics: Aerogels based on cellulose nanofibers can effectively shield electromagnetic radiation over a wide frequency range – and they are unrivalled in terms of weight.

Electric motors and electronic devices generate electromagnetic fields that sometimes have to be shielded in order not to affect neighboring electronic...

Im Focus: Gentle wall contact – the right scenario for a fusion power plant

Quasi-continuous power exhaust developed as a wall-friendly method on ASDEX Upgrade

A promising operating mode for the plasma of a future power plant has been developed at the ASDEX Upgrade fusion device at Max Planck Institute for Plasma...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Contact Tracing Apps against COVID-19: German National Academy Leopoldina hosts international virtual panel discussion

07.07.2020 | Event News

International conference QuApps shows status quo of quantum technology

02.07.2020 | Event News

Dresden Nexus Conference 2020: Same Time, Virtual Format, Registration Opened

19.05.2020 | Event News

Latest News

Looking at linkers helps to join the dots

10.07.2020 | Materials Sciences

Surprisingly many peculiar long introns found in brain genes

10.07.2020 | Life Sciences

Goodbye Absorbers: High-Precision Laser Welding of Plastics

10.07.2020 | Materials Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>