Semiconductor technology is becoming increasingly important in global healthcare enabling novel understanding, discovery and treatment of disease to make healthcare more affordable and efficient, both in and out of the clinic.
With the global healthcare industry being valued at US $1.65 trillion in 2016 and expected to reach US $2.69 trillion by 20251, it is an important growth industry. Key drivers behind this ongoing market growth are growing and ageing populations, over-urbanization, rising disease prevalence all of which are putting further strain on our healthcare systems which are already grappling with issues relating to access, quality, and cost. Convergence of technology from the seemingly disparate fields of semiconductor device processing, life sciences are fast revolutionising healthcare and medical research by enabling quick and accurate diagnosis. This, in turn, is increasing the speed and efficiency of treatment for various conditions as well as biomedical research and development.
Biomedical device processing
Biomedical devices are a class of miniaturized electronic devices that are assembled by integration of microfluidics, active sensors/transducers and the supporting signal processing electronics. The similarity of fabrication techniques for this class of devices to those of microelectronics not only allows researchers and engineers to leverage decades of microelectronics processing experience but also provides a rapid route to scale up for new technologies. The very first integrated devices were fabricated on silicon (Si) substrates followed by glass (SiO2) which brought some advantages. Today’s devices are hybrids that combine glass, silicon and various polymers like acrylic, resists, thermoplastics and several other novel nano-electronic and photonic materials. Semiconductor fabrication techniques provide the required economies of scale to make this technology cost-effective, maintaining precision and continued miniaturization and creating devices that remain functional over long-term use.
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