The global market for microelectronic medical implants, accessories and supplies was worth an estimated $15.4 billion in 2010. This market is expected to grow to $24.8 billion in 2016. While pacemakers and defibrillators are in a mature market, rapid growth is underway with neuro-stimulators and implantable drug pumps. Electronic implants are limited by battery life, power consumption and size of the overall devices.
In research funded by a Coulter seed grant, the principal investigators found that the size of implantable antennas could be significantly reduced and antenna efficiency could be significantly improved by the use of high dielectric constant materials that match the high dielectric constant of body tissues. This finding opens the door to development of implantable devices that are smaller, that consume less power, and that are more comfortable for patients. Smaller devices will also expand the pool of patients eligible to receive implantable electronic devices.
In the next step toward commercialization, the principal investigators will work to modify the current dielectric materials to obtain biocompatibility and incorporate them into a new telemetry design.