For many years, bioceramic materials have been created and optimized at Fraunhofer IKTS, together with functional components for implantology. With the aid of foaming and casting technologies as well as plasma coatings and sol-gel processes, Fraunhofer IKTS is able to produce and functionalize dense and cellular bioceramics. Novel approaches – such as additive manufacturing or functionalization by means of sensor and actuator systems – are new core research topics for the next generation of implants.
To ensure that dental ceramic components have the right appeal regarding their aesthetic traits, biocompatability and extraordinary durability, Fraunhofer IKTS researches new types of materials, components and production technologies. The institute is able to process oxide-ceramic materials – e.g. to dental restorations – through continuous process chains (CAD/CAM). In addition, it is possible to targetedly structure the surface of oxide ceramic based implants through the shaping process. For the dental ceramics field, the institute developed a lithium silicate for thin-layer veneering of monolithic restorations made from yttrium-stabilized zirconium oxide. This product delivers a superior adhesive bond, is easy to apply and renders post-implant follow-up superfluous. The comprehensive set of characterization methods facilitates a steady improvement of the properties at the material/semi-finished product level. As part of its initial preparatory research, it studies the most modern processes – such as additive manufacturing of dental components – optimizes these and certifies them for use in serial production.
Knowledge of how biological tissues interact with various materials is decisive for the development of implants and biofunctional microsystems. The combination of bioceramic materials and biophysical systems creates synergies between ceramics and microsystem technology, thus permitting the production of diagnostic and therapeutic medical devices.
Fraunhofer IKTS has unique expertise in the development of monitoring systems that are used in studies of cellular and microbial growth processes. In addition, Fraunhofer IKTS is working on biophysical actuator systems to promote the targeted growth of tissues on implant surfaces and inhibit bacterial growth. New kinds of transmission systems ensure that implants have wireless and battery-free power supply.
Ceramic materials are distinctive for their wear resistance, biocompatibility, and chemical inertness, as well as for their targeted modulation of electrical conductivity. This enables creative approaches to the manufacture of functionalized surgical instruments as well as a wide diversity of components used in medical technology. High-precision ceramic cutting materials and instruments that clamp and obliterate within one work step, or ceramic springs for X-ray devices: the point where other materials reach the end of their potential is precisely where ceramic materials just begin to exhibit their myriad advantages. With this in mind, the team at Fraunhofer IKTS is constantly in search of trendsetting applications for use in the components and devices of medical technology, to bring the benefits of ceramics to the human race.
Innovative procedures in optical, acoustic, and bioelectric analytics open up new pathways for the next generation of medical diagnostic systems. At center stage in the research conducted by Fraunhofer IKTS are the methods, components, consumable materials and complete systems for oncology, biomedicine, and clinical applications.
Optical methods represent a unique focal point because they can perform rapid, ultrasensitive and contact-free measurements. It is therefore the ideal tool for measuring biological processes and defects at the cellular level. This means that the institute can already respond to many medical and diagnostic issues confronting the field of medical technology and the disciplines of life sciences in a simple, cost-effective manner.
The IKTS, in joint collaboration with the Fraunhofer Institute for Cell Therapy and Immunology IZI, established the Bio-Nanotechnology Applications Lab (BNAL) for this purpose. At the interface between cellular biology, medicine, biotechnology, nanotechnology, and medical technology, scientists address issues affecting everyone, from biological/medical basic research or process engineering to validation and certification of the latest technologies and system solutions.