Are you a cyborg?
20140107 Kosta Schinarakis of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology —
Communication between man and machine – a fascinating area at the interface of chemistry, biomedicine, and engineering. Image by KIT/S. Giselbrecht, R. Meyer, B. Rapp
• Now electronic implants based on microelectronics and semiconductor technology are used in cardiac pacemakers, retina implants, hearing implants, and implants for deep brain stimulation (pain or Parkinson therapies).
• Future development area include highly complex neuroprostheses (brain-machine interfaces (BMI)) to allow for the direct physical contacting of the brain.
• Future progress in releasing substances by implanted micro- and nanofluidic systems in a spatially or temporarily controlled manner for communication between technical devices and organisms.
They are known from science fiction novels and films – technically modified organisms with extraordinary skills, so-called cyborgs. This name originates from the English term “cybernetic organism”. In fact, cyborgs that combine technical systems with living organisms are already a reality. KIT researchers Professor Christof M. Niemeyer and Dr. Stefan Giselbrecht of the Institute for Biological Interfaces 1 (IBG 1) and Dr. Bastian E. Rapp, Institute of Microstructure Technology (IMT), point out that this especially applies to medical implants.
In recent years, medical implants based on smart materials that automatically react to changing conditions, computer-supported design and fabrication based on magnetic resonance tomography datasets or surface modifications for improved tissue integration allowed major progress to be achieved.
KIT scientists discuss the state of the art of research, opportunities, and risks.
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