A team of researchers at Tel Aviv University found a way to print flexible, biocompatible components for microelectromechanical systems, making them suitable for use in medical devices, including prostheses.
The micro-printing process yields flexible, non-toxic, paper-thin membranes made of an organic polymer. According to a press release, this material has specific properties that make it attractive for micro- and nano-scale sensors and actuators and are more suitable for implantation in the human body than the silicon microelectromechanical system (MEMS) membranes usually used. The switch from silicon to polymer membranes could help make prostheses more comfortable, efficient and safer for use on or inside the body.
“The use of new, soft materials in micro devices stretches both the imagination and the limits of technology, but introducing polymer MEMS to industry can only be realized with the development of printing technologies that allow for low cost mass production,” Leeya Engel, an engineering doctoral candidate at Tel Aviv University, stated in the release.
The team’s next step is to use the printing process to make functional sensors and actuators almost entirely out of the polymer at the micro- and nano-scales.