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The Next Big Thing In Small: How Interconnect Tech Advances Will Help Designers Shrink Neuro Device Packaging
Keywords: Miniaturization, Interconnects, Contacts
The Next Big Thing In Small How Interconnect Tech Advances Will Help Designers Shrink Neuro Device Packaging Neuromodulation, defined as the alteration of nerve activity through targeted delivery of a stimulus, has been a growing area of medical study and practice since the 1960s. In most therapies, the “stimulus” is delivered by active (powered) implantable devices, which consist of packaged electronics, batteries, and other components. Today’s device market is being driven by technological innovation – most notably miniaturization. As implantable neuro devices get smaller, they require smaller subsystems, which present designers, system suppliers, and component manufacturers with unique challenges. Over time, the industry has become engaged in a difficult struggle of physics between size and functionality. This paper will explore the push toward neuromodulation device size reduction, and the important role interconnects will play in developing smaller implants that can support current and future therapies. Beginning with an overview of existing interconnect technologies and their basic construction, the paper will also cite real-world application examples from device designers, device contract manufacturers, and an established component maker. It will examine the critical function of the interconnect, and its impact on overall device size. A segment on device manufacturing economics will review differences between vertical integration of interconnect production and the alternative approach of outsourcing. It will also feature information about development and introduction of turnkey interconnect systems, which allow the device maker to source pre-tested stacks with integrated contacts and fluid seals. Recent advances in neuromodulation therapies (including brain- computer interfaces, cranially implanted devices, functional electrical stimulation, and others) will be addressed, as will the reasons why these developments have stretched the capabilities of standard serial interconnects to their limits. The paper will conclude with a detailed look at new interconnect technologies that promise to reduce lead interface to near-microscopic sizes (.5mm diameters). These will include a next-generation version of a popular spring-based electrical contact with reduced axial pitch (for space savings in device header cavities), and a high-density contact array that applies a “build up, not out” approach to increasing connection capacity.
Mark Russell, Senior Global Market Manager, Medical Electronics
Bal Seal Engineering, Inc.
Foothill Ranch, California
United States

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