“Smart” active implants of the future will not only control bioelectric functions in the body, as known already from state-of-the-art cardiac pacemakers, which measure a broad variety of patterns and take corrective action on heart muscle activity as needed, but they will also evaluate additional physical and relevant biochemical parameters. Such implants could be highly miniaturized intracranial pressure sensors for intracranial electrodes or general sensors either responding to cues from their biochemical environment, such as calcium or potassium levels (ion-sensitive hydrogels), or detecting biomarkers with high specificity, for example for inflammation monitoring during healing processes after implantation surgery. For the latter case, biodegradable types based on lactate/molecularly imprinted polymers seem appropriate. The safety and stability of such medical devices in body fluids, however, places extremely high demands on their development.
In our research, we closely collaborate with other Fraunhofer ITEM departments and also with excellent academic partners.