Interesting Patents | Thursday, May 18, 2023
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) grants hundreds of new patents every week, showcasing developments in technology and innovation. In our Interesting Patents series, we highlight exciting US patent applications and patents recently issued by the USPTO. The patent system enables the protection of innovative ideas, and newly published patent applications provide a glimpse into the future of technology and innovation.
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POLYMER ENCLOSURE WITH WIRE PASSTHROUGH FOR IMPLANTABLE DEVICE
ASSIGNEE: Neuralink Corp
US PAT. Appl. NO. 2023/0148968 A
In the ever-evolving sphere of medical technology, innovation is the name of the game. Today, we’ll be diving into a revolutionary breakthrough that has the potential to transform the world of implantable devices as we know it. This development, known as the “Polymer Enclosure with Wire Passthrough for Implantable Device,” is a creation from innovative minds based in California. The patent application, US 20230148968 A1, was published on May 18, 2023, and is managed by Neuralink Corp., a company widely recognized for its significant strides in neurotechnology.
The fundamental concept of this invention is a unique method for crafting implantable devices. The process involves creating a slit in a polymer piece and threading numerous insulated wires through the slit. The wires are arranged parallel to each other. The polymer is then thermally bonded around each wire, encasing the insulation of each wire, with a part of each wire extending through the polymer. The entire procedure is carried out in a pure nitrogen environment, which bolsters the integrity and longevity of the device.
Polychlorotrifluoroethylene (PCTFE), a material lauded for its exceptional chemical resistance, is the polymer of choice for this process. This makes it a perfect fit for medical applications. The wire insulation is made of polyimide, a high-performance plastic frequently employed in the electronics industry due to its superior thermal and chemical stability.
The PCTFE enclosure boasts a seam through which the insulated wires extend. The wires, each less than 100 micrometers from its neighboring wires, ensure a high wire density while maintaining the structural integrity of the enclosure. The enclosure is substantially hermetically sealed, which safeguards the device from external factors.
The real excitement comes from the inclusion of an integrated circuit, a wireless communication device, or a wireless charging device sealed within an opening in the enclosure. This feature allows for seamless communication and power supply, thereby amplifying the device’s functionality and user experience.
One of the most promising applications of this invention lies in the field of neurotechnology. The electrodes attached to the insulated wires can be implanted in the brain, offering unprecedented possibilities for advanced neural monitoring and stimulation. Imagine this: people with brain or spinal cord injuries could regain functions such as vision or even mobility. This potential has even caught the attention of Elon Musk, who has expressed his intention to personally trial the technology once it reaches human testing stages.
However, it’s not all smooth sailing. Like any pioneering technology, Neuralink’s innovations have been met with both enthusiasm and controversy. The company has recently been in the headlines over an investigation into their animal testing protocols. Yet, despite these challenges, the potential benefits of this technology for people with severe disabilities are truly remarkable.
This invention represents a critical step forward in our collective journey towards a future where technology and biology harmoniously intersect to enhance human health and capabilities. It has the potential to drive advancements in various fields, including neurology, cardiology, and beyond. By innovating a more efficient and reliable method for producing implantable devices, this invention is truly paving the way for a brighter, healthier future.
PATENT ABSTRACT & ART:Source: USPTO
An implantable device and method of manufacture include a substantially hermetic polychlorotrifluoroethylene (PCTFE) enclosure with closely-spaced wires extending through a slit in the enclosure. A method for manufacturing the implantable device includes cutting a slit in a piece of polymer and extending a plurality of insulated wires through the slit. Each of the insulated wires are parallel to a neighboring wire of the insulated wires. The piece of polymer is thermally bonded around each wire of the plurality of insulated wires such that the piece of polymer is sealed around insulation of each wire with a portion of each wire extending through the piece of polymer.
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