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Vacancy – PhD Studentship KCL

Excellent opportunity here for a fully funded 3.5 year PhD: Lifetime prediction of implanted electronics operating at increased relative humidity.

Lifetime prediction of implanted electronics operating at increased relative humidity – Kings College London.

Aim of the project:

Active implants, like cochlear implants, must guarantee decades of safe operation in the body, surrounded by fluid. Without protection, electronics exposed to such conditions would rapidly corrode. Most implants, irrespective of the clinical application, achieve long-term reliability by sealing the electronics inside a hermetic enclosure, to prevent the ingress of moisture.

However, no enclosure is perfectly hermetic, water vapor does penetrate at a very slow rate. With technological advances and the miniaturisation of electronics (future implants will have free internal volumes < 1 mm3), even this slow rate is becoming a challenge. Operating at elevated relative humidity introduces new failure mechanisms, we need new understandings, to develop a new method to predict microimplant lifetime [Vanhoestenberghe 2013].

We believe that it is possible to create micro-implantable-devices that operate safely for the required lifetimes despite the internal relative humidity being elevated, and the aim of this project is to design experiments to rigorously evaluate this claim. The outcome will be a new understanding of the lifetime of such microdevices, enabling us to deliver a range of new clinical applications.

Project description:

This project is a study of the reliability, and failure mechanisms, of electronics in biomedical applications, specifically electronics packaged in hermetic or semi-hermetic enclosures. This is a technology development project, at this stage no specific clinical application is targeted. Our aim is to ensure the safety and long-term reliability of the next generation of active implantable micro-devices, for applications such as brain computer interfaces, wearable sensors, spinal cord stimulators. This very timely work will support the rapidly developing field of bioelectronics medicine.

Our focus is on the failure of ICs over time as a function of environmental conditions typically found in implants and wearable devices. There will be several competing failure mechanisms to study, we expect in particular to see both wirebond failure and corrosion of the integrated circuits (IC) [Gan 2014]. One challenge will be to conceive an experimental protocol that can discriminate between these failure mechanisms to evaluate their relative contribution to the failure rate. A second challenge is the need to accelerate the failure rate, since implants should operate safely for decades, yet it would be impractical to run an experiment for such a long period. Instead, the environmental stresses (temperature and relative humidity) are increased, to accelerate the failure rate and observe failures within months [Hallberg 1991].

The candidate will design an innovative experimental protocol and build the associated equipment, to control the accelerated aging environment and automatically collect data on the failure rate of electronics. We are interested in the effect of the residual ionic contaminants that remain after the final cleaning steps during assembly. The student will validate their equipment and prepare the samples in year 1 (Y1), run the experiment (Y2) and analyse the data to acquire a new understanding of the time to failure, and acceleration, based on a comparison with measurements taken on day 0 (Y3).

As with every novel equipment, the final ageing protocol is unknown at this stage, it will be designed by the candidate. We anticipate that for IC corrosion, the samples will be CMOS ICs with InterDigitated Electrodes (IDE) on the top metal layer. Monitoring the impedance between the electrodes gives information about the corrosion of the IC, a method we and others have used successfully in previous work [Vanhoestenberghe 2013, Lamont 2021]. Aged wirebond reliability will be evaluated using a different test sample design, that will be developed by the student. After a period under test, the samples will be characterised by complementary methods, such as SEM, Focused Ion Beam imaging including Transmission Electron Microscopy and Time of Flight Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry as appropriate. Some of these methods may be available in house, other characterisation will be performed collaboratively with research partners, such as the Fraunhofer Institute for Reliability and Microintegration IZM in Berlin.

This project is multi-disciplinary, and therefore we are open to candidates with a broad range of backgrounds, whether in electronics, electrochemistry, biomedical engineering or material sciences. What we look for is commitment to rigorous scientific enquiry, and a desire to conduct research that can make a difference in people’s life.

For more info please email Prof. Anne Vanhoestenberghe – email a.vanhoest@kcl.ac.uk or check here.

Larry Hench Award #UKSB2022

There were so many excellent nominations this year for this award; it was difficult to select just one winner. But it is with pleasure to announce that Dr Tanveer Tabish will be awarded with the excellent prize this year.

The Larry Hench Young Investigators Prize is dedicated to promising young researchers in recognition of their outstanding contributions within the field of biomaterials. This award is given in remembrance of such a key figure of this field – Prof Larry Hench (1938-2015).

Final Deadline Extended #UKSB2022

Due to the Easter break and a few people asking for a little more time to finalise data for their #UKSB2022 abstracts, we have decided to move the deadline to Friday 29th April at 5pm. This will be a final deadline, so please do submit before this deadline.

Thank you to all that have submitted – there are some excellent topics and we can see already the quality of the research coming through. This is going to be a very exciting meeting with many of the founding members of the Society joining for the celebratory event.

Alan Wilson Memorial Lecture Award

It is with pleasure that we announce the award for the Alan Wilson Memorial Lecture this year will be given to Prof Sanjuka Deb, King’s College London to recognise her work and contribution to the UK Biomaterials field in celebration of the life and career of the outstanding dental materials scientist Dr Alan Wilson OBE (1928-2011).

I look forward to hearing about Prof Deb’s latest work as she joins us at #UKSB2022.

Presidents Prize Keynote Speaker Prof Paul Hatton

It is our pleasure to announce this years UKSB Presidents prize will be awarded to Prof Paul Hatton from the University of Sheffield.

We will hear about Prof. Hatton’s vast experience of the biomaterials world, from the fundamentals of biomaterials science to working with clinical partners. This prize will recognize his absolutely outstanding contributions to the field during his career, and I look forward to the many stories and anecdotes he might tell.

Annual Conference

We are delighted to announce some of the fabulous speakers at this years annual conference.

Alongside this very special anniversary event for the Society, we welcome many of the founding society members who established the basis of this community now 22 years ago.

This is set to be an amazing event, with abstracts coming in spanning fundamental chemistry of biomaterials to clinical translation.

We have sponsorship already from the following companies – please do get in touch should you wish to exhibit at our event.

Registration now open #UKSB2022

We are happy to open registration for this years conference.

UK Society for Biomaterials 2022 Annual Conference

UKSB2022 will be a celebration of UKSB which was founded in 2000 with the first meeting held at The University of Sheffield in the same year. Please join us back in Sheffield to celebrate over 20 years of our amazing society!

For more information about the conference and for important dates, abstract submissions and exhibitor info please click here.

This year the conference is being hosted at The Edge, Sheffield University June 27-28th 2022

Please click here for the direct registration page.

Looking forward to welcoming you all there!

Abstract deadline moved back

After some requests we have decided to push the deadline for #UKSB2022 abstracts back to 14th April 2022. We hope that this gives you enough time to submit your work for presentation at this years annual conference.

This year we will welcome the biomaterials community to Sheffield, where the UKSB began now 22 years ago. This will be an anniversary celebration delayed slightly due to the past few years of Covid, during which we hosted online annual meetings. #UKSB2022 is set to be an amazing event with some excellent keynote speakers lined up – more details to follow very soon.

Please see here for more details, and importantly for the abstract template and submission info.

Banner caption: S1813 structured chemical patterning x10 enhanced (James Kinsella)
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