Functionally Active Biocompatible Encapsulation (FABE)
A major drawback of silicon, the most common material used for the integrated circuits on implant devices, is that the body's immune system views it as a foreign object and attacks it, which causes the circuits to quickly corrode or dissolve. SSIM researchers have found a way to encapsulate such integrated circuits with biocompatible materials while still retaining their function. The solution to this previously insurmountable engineering problem is a new technique for applying a single layer of biocompatible materials to selective areas of implant devices. In the past, such self-assembled monolayers, or SAMs, could only be applied uniformly. By covering the entire device, however, the sensing functions were lost. The SSIM technique enables the engineers to top the areas that need to be protected while leaving the implant's function intact.
The research team has already tested the technique with excellent results on silicon, sapphire and a number of other traditional and novel base materials. Extended experiments have verified both the monolayer's biostability and biocompatibility.
Beyond its medical implications, the SAM technique presents vast possibilities in other fields that demand electronics able to function in hostile environments. The selective application of monolayers with specific properties will help to generate devices to withstand high radiation, heat or other extremes.