Smart implants, which transmit and capture data or are equipped with optical components such as sensors, are becoming more and more common.

Smart implants, which transmit and capture data or are equipped with optical components such as sensors, are becoming more and more common.

The future is becoming personal. As humans and technology unite, science fiction is becoming reality. Smart implants are paving the way. They are making our own bodies into functional parts of the Internet of Things: extremely small, highly reliable, and intelligently connected, implants are increasingly entering the medical technology market to capture and transmit data. Optical components, such as sensors and cameras, can collect critical information. These sensitive elements depend on housings that protect them from moisture and bodily fluids. At the same time, these housings must not interfere with electrical, optical and high- frequency signal transmission. This is where glass begins to shine as a material. Its excellent biocompatibility and transparency for high-frequency waves opens up completely new possibilities for active implants. For example, “full-glass housings” could enable particularly efficient loading, data transmission and programming for implants. The transparency of glass also unlocks a broad spectrum of optical applications.

Already today, special retinal implants in all-glass hermetic packaging create new treatment methods for people suffering from severe vision loss. These implants are inserted into the eye in a minimally-invasive surgical procedure and contain the necessary functionalities to stimulate retinal nerves without needing additional wiring outside the eye globe. The all-glass housing enables wireless data transmission that the patient’s care provider can use to optimize the device for maximum effectiveness.

Hermetic all-glass sensor package
Tickness: 1.8 mm (500 + 800 + 500 μm), W x H: 10 x 10 mm

The acquisition of the Finnish company Primoceler Oy opens up new opportunities for SCHOTT. Their innovative high-tech laser micro-bonding process allows glass-to-glass or glass-to-silicon bonding without generating heat or using additive materials.

This has enabled even smaller wafer- and chip-size components for implantable medical products. Gas can be integrated into the cavity, or a vacuum can be created and maintained. In combination with new biocompatible forms of glass, entirely new uses of wafer-level chip-scale packaging (WL-CSP) are now possible. In addition to medical, glass micro bonding has already had positive impacts in high-reliability applications such as aerospace, micro-optics,and consumer electronics.

Autoclavable medical device components, bioactive and dental glass powders, and injectable transponders for livestock and pets are examples of bio-based and medical applications where glass has already made significant impacts. Medical implants, micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS), and other electronic and optical components are the next frontier: exciting developments in the combination of glass and medical technology are opening the potential for positive impacts on every day health and wellness.

February 21, 2019


Kevin Waxman
Electronic Packaging
SCHOTT North America, Inc.