Pain free microneedles

Swansea University is working with SPTS Technologies, a leading manufacturer of plasma etch and deposition and thermal processing equipment for the semiconductor industry, to develop silicon microneedle (MN) devices for specialised healthcare applications. Taking inspiration from nature and the mosquito’s ability to pierce the skin painlessly, Swansea University are developing MN arrays for transdermal drug and vaccine delivery systems. Considerably finer and shorter than any hypodermic syringe needle, MN devices are relatively painless (they do not puncture deep enough into the skin to stimulate pain) and cause appreciably less damage to skin than traditional hypodermics.  This is critical in where patients will require regular therapy.

Dr Owen Guy, Associate Professor at the College of Engineering and Director of CNH at  Swansea University, said ‘Swansea has benefited hugely from working with SPTS Technologies in terms of access to SPTS’ state-of-the-art etch and deposition tools and the expertise of SPTS’ technical teams.  This has led to novel developments of BioMEMS devices with enhanced functionality.  The capability of these devices has been instrumental in forging links for future commercial development of BioMEMS products.’

Paul Rich, SPTS’ vice president of etch & deposition product engineering, added: “While MEMS is an extremely important served market for SPTS, accounting for approximately 30% of our equipment sales, the company’s experience is mainly in the manufacture of established high volume MEMS products like silicon gyroscopes and accelerometers for automotive or smartphone applications.  This project gave us extra resources to investigate and demonstrate results within the emerging BioMEMS market which is forecast to become a key driver of MEMS industry growth over the next decade.”