Science and Technology of Bio-Inert Thin Films as Hermetic-Encapsulating Coatings for Implantable Biomedical Devices: Application to Implantable Microchip in the Eye for the Artificial Retina

Part of the Biological and Medical Physics, Biomedical Engineering book series (BIOMEDICAL)


Extensive research has been devoted to the development of neuron prostheses and hybrid bionic systems to establish links between the nervous system and electronic or robotic prostheses with the main focus of restoring motor and sensory functions in blind patients. Artificial retinas, one type of neural prostheses we are currently working on, aim to restore some vision in blind patients caused by retinitis picmentosa or macular degeneration, and in the future to restore vision at the level of face recognition, if not more. Currently there is no hermetic microchip-size coating that provides a reliable, long-term (years) performance as encapsulating coating for the artificial retina Si microchip to be implanted inside the eye. This chapter focuses on the critical topics relevant to the development of a robust, long-term artificial retina device, namely the science and technology of hermetic bio-inert encapsulating coatings to protect a Si microchip implanted in the human eye from being attacked by chemicals existing in the eye’s saline environment. The work discussed in this chapter is related to the development of a novel ultrananocrystalline diamond (UNCD) hermetic coating, which exhibited no degradation in rabbit eyes. The material synthesis, characterization, and electrochemical properties of these hermetic coatings are reviewed for application as encapsulating coating for the artificial retinal microchips implantable inside the human eye. Our work has shown that UNCD coatings may provide a reliable hermetic bio-inert coating technology for encapsulation of Si microchips implantable in the eye specifically and in the human body in general. Electrochemical tests of the UNCD films grown under CH4/Ar/H2 (1%) plasma exhibit the lowest leakage currents (∼7 × 10–7 A/cm2) in a saline solution simulating the eye environment. This leakage is incompatible with the functionality of the first-generation artificial retinal microchip. However, the growth of UNCD on top of the Si microchip passivated by a silicon nitride layer or the oxide layers is also under investigation in our group as introduced in this chapter. The electrochemically induced leakage will be reduced by at least one to three orders of magnitude to the range of 10−10 A/cm2, which is compatible with reliable, long-term implants.


Atomic Layer Deposition Diamond Film Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor Chemical Vapor Deposition Technique Implantable Medical Device 
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We wish to acknowledge support from the U. S. Department of Energy, BES-Materials Science for work in the Materials Science Division, under contract W-31-109-ENG-38. The work at the Center for Nanoscale Materials and at the Electron Microscopy Center for Materials Research at Argonne National Laboratory was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy-Office of Science under Contract No. DE-AC02-06CH11357 by UChicago Argonne, LLC. We also acknowledge the many colleagues and postdoctorals who have made substantial contributions to the work discussed in this chapter over the years, namely: J. Birrell, J.A. Carlisle, L. Chen, W. Fan, R. Greenberg, D.M. Gruen, M. Humayun, B. Kabius, W. Li, Q. Lin, C. Liu, B. Mech, A. V. Sumant, J. Wang, J. Weiland, and X. Xiao.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Materials Science DivisionCenter for Nanoscale Materials, Argonne National LaboratoryArgonneUSA
  2. 2.Materials Science DivisionArgonne National LaboratoryArgonneUSA

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