Advances in the microelectronics and telecommunications industries have driven important breakthroughs in medical technologies and health diagnostics over the past decade. However, there are fundamental gaps in size, sensing modalities and mechanical properties between the standard rigid electronics, employed in medical devices today, and the signals emitted by soft biological structures. Here, I describe novel materials, mechanics and designs for emerging classes of health monitoring systems and invasive medical devices, including soft wearable patches and flexible catheter-based systems. These emerging devices incorporate microfabricated arrays of sensors (e.g. dry electrodes, temperature sensors, and accelerometers), actuators (e.g. micro-LEDs, piezo-electric ribbons, pacing electrodes) and silicon nanomembrane semiconductors, configured in ultrathin, flexible formats for continuous monitoring, therapy delivery and energy harvesting. Quantitative analyses of strain distributions and circuit performances under stress illustrate the ability of these systems to mechanically couple with moist soft biological tissues, in a way that is mechanically invisible to the target biological substrate and comfortable for the patient. As demonstrations of this technology, I present representative examples of flexible and stretchable systems for use in both non-invasive and minimally-invasive applications, which leverage the same class of microfabricated circuits and flexible sensor arrays. Non-invasive ‘biostamps’ that laminate on skin have the potential to provide continuous sensing of cardiac, muscle and neural electrical activity, with wireless data transfer in hospital and home settings. Minimally-invasive multifunctional balloon catheters containing stretchable sensors and actuators that integrate directly on thin elastic membranes of otherwise conventional balloons, provide both diagnostics and therapy on a single device. Use of such 'instrumented' balloon catheters in live animal models illustrates their operation, as well as their specific utility in cardiac ablation and highly specific neuro-modulation therapy. The fabrication strategies and design concepts described in this talk can be tailored to various biological substrates and geometries of interest, and thus have the potential to broadly bridge the gap that exists between rigid electronics and biology.
Dr. Roozbeh Ghaffari obtained his BS and MEng degrees in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2001 and 2003, respectively. He received his PhD degree in biomedical engineering from the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology in 2008. Upon completion of his graduate studies, Dr. Ghaffari co-founded MC10 Inc. MC10 is a venture-funded company commercializing bio-integrated devices for wearable and minimally invasive medical applications. Dr. Ghaffari currently leads advanced technology at MC10 and has shaped the technology development focus around wearable and invasive medical applications. He also holds a Research Scientist position in the MIT Research Laboratory of Electronics in the Cochlear Micromechanics Group. His contributions in bio-integrated devices have been recognized with the Helen Carr Peake PhD Research Prize (2008) and MIT Technology Review magazine’s Top 35 Innovators Under 35 (2013). He has published over 25 research papers and is inventor on more than 30 patent applications and awards.