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Atomic layer deposition technology finds path to medical market via drug-delivery systems

Finland-based supplier of atomic layer deposition (ALD) technology Picosun Oy (Espoo) recently announced that it has entered the medical market via drug-delivery systems developed by Nanexa AB (Uppsala, Sweden).

Finland-based supplier of atomic layer deposition (ALD) technology Picosun Oy (Espoo) recently announced that it has entered the medical market via drug-delivery systems developed by Nanexa AB (Uppsala, Sweden).

PicosunALD enables the deposition of hermetic, ultra-thin layers of metals, polymers and other materials on a range of products. The technology's capability to cover very small parts with complex geometries gives it an attractive profile for medical device applications. The coating increases operational life, reliability and safety of medical equipment and enables advanced synthesis, delivery and dosing of medical substances, says the company. Several biocompatible coating materials are available, and because it is a gas-phase, low-temperature method, the ALD process can be used to coat sensitive plastic substrates in medical products. Picosun did not disclose the specific material used in the Nanexa application.

Nanexa is specialized in the development of nanotechnology-enabled drug-delivery systems that, it says, "create new possibilities for drug formulations and drug release." Its signature PharmaShell technology encapsulates solid drug particles in the nano- to micrometer range within an extremely thin shell made from a soluble, mineral compound. The thickness of the shell determines the time-release properties and allows precise therapeutic tailoring. The shell, which is created by ALD technology, completely dissolves and exits the body.

Picosun ALD process tools are used primarily in the semiconductor industry as well as in microelectromechanical and light-emitting diode production. The technology also has applications in the deposition of protective, decorative and biocompatible coatings, and is widely used in high-level research institutes across the world.

Picosun would like to see its technology make further inroads into medical applications. To this point, it is involved in the InForMed project, a European Union (EU) initiative to develop an integrated micro-fabrication pilot line for medical device production that incorporates the full innovation chain from concept to system qualification. The project, which is funded by the EU ECSEL JU public-private partnership, began in June 2015 and runs until May 2018.

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