PhD project: The application of PEEK to implanted electronic devices

Nathaniel Dahan

Supervisors: Prof. Nick Donaldson and Dr. Stephen Taylor

This project's aim is to develop the science and design of Smart Implanted Devices, including possible new manufacturing methods. These devices will be fabricated from the polymer PEEK that has attractive properties for many types of orthopaedic implant.

PEEK is a polymer that is used in many orthopaedic implants because of its favourable mechanical properties and its biocompatibility. However, high-reliability electronic implants such as pacemakers have ‘hermetic’ enclosures with the electronic components in dry gas.  This type of package, generally made of titanium, kovar or alumina, guarantees a very long lifetime, but is also expensive. PEEK can easily be machined or injection-moulded, it is an attractive material for implant manufacturers and it may be that by novel design based on established material properties, PEEK may be used in some applications.

This thesis examines the case of PEEK as a packaging material for applications which only require a more limited lifetime (less than 1.5 years). The process of moisture ingress through polymers is analysed, a novel calculation method to quantify it is presented, and the maximum lifetime of PEEK packages is evaluated. Various approaches to increase this lifetime, such as metal coating of PEEK and the use of desiccant, are also investigated.

Useful links:

Dahan, N., 2012. The application of PEEK to implanted electronic devices: Lifetime of PEEK packages with silica gel desiccant. In IMAPS 45th International Symposium on Microelectronics, San Diego, USA.

Dahan, N.; Vanhoestenberghe, A.; Donaldson, N., "Moisture Ingress Into Packages With Walls of Varying Thickness And/Or Properties: A Simple Calculation Method," Components, Packaging and Manufacturing Technology, IEEE Transactions on , vol.2, no.11, pp.1796,1801, Nov. 2012

Dahan, N.; Donaldson, N.; Taylor, SJG; Sereno, N., 2013. The Application of PEEK to the Packaging of Implantable Electronic Devices: Water Permeation Calculation Method and Maximum Achievable Lifetime with Desiccant. Journal of Microelectronics and Electronic Packaging, 10(1), pp.15–22.

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