Bio- and Medical Technology

Areas of application

© Fraunhofer IKTS
3D visualization of a tooth using optical coherence tomography.

Implant ceramics


The researchers at Fraunhofer IKTS develop preparation and shaping technologies for oxide ceramic and silicon nitride materials, for dental and orthopedic applications. All developments can be used for prototypes or targeted scaling up to the industrial scale.

One focus of dental and orthopaedic implants made of oxide ceramics is on new concepts and technologies for structuring the ceramic surface in the shaping process. The advantage is that it is no longer necessary to finish the sintered ceramics. For anatomical dental restorations a special TZ3Y ceramic material is available which boasts more translucency and higher wear resistance and is not subject to hydrothermal aging. In order to meet the aesthetic requirements for crowns or bridge frameworks, the dental restorations are coated with a lithium silicate spray, which forms a very intensive adhesive bond with the TZ3Y framework.

The manufacture of fine-grained dispersion ceramics (alumina toughened zirconia ATZ, zirconia toughened alumina ZTA) is also part of the service portfolio offered. The IKTS site in Hermsdorf is certified in accordance with ISO:2016 13485 for research and development in the field of oxide ceramic materials and components, material compounds and the manufacture of semi-finished products for medical engineering.

Gefriergeschäumte Daumenknochenreplikate.
© Fraunhofer IKTS
Freeze foamed thumb bone replicas.

Bone substitutes


Human bones consist of a large number of macro-, meso- and micropores with 100 to 700 μm in diameter. This porosity is especially important for the stability and integration of cells into the bone structure. The researchers of Fraunhofer IKTS produce precise porosities using various replica and placeholder methods or direct foaming techniques. Freeze foaming is one such unique type of direct foaming. It is used to produce potential bone substitute material from materials that are similar to the human body, such as hydroxylapatite or tricalcium powder [Ca5(PO4)3(OH), Ca2(PO4)3], allowing the decomposition of the artificial material as the endogenous tissue rebuilds. Bioinert materials such as Al2O3 or ZrO2 may also be used for long-term stable implants. Fraunhofer IKTS evaluates and uses new approaches, such as additive manufacturing, in order to produce patient-specific biomimetic bone structures.

Mit Keramik beschichtete Zangenspitzen.
© Fraunhofer IKTS
Coated forceps tips.

Surgical instruments and components



Ceramic materials are not only wear-resistant, biocompatible and chemically inert, their electric conductivity can also be precisely configured. This enables creative approaches for functionalized surgical instruments and various components in medical engineering: high-precision ceramic cutting materials and instruments that clamp and sclerose in one step, or ceramic springs for x-ray machines. Ceramic materials come into their own where other materials fail.

© Fraunhofer IKTS
Osteoblasts on silicon nitride (actin/vinculin/DAPI).

Diagnostic/therapeutic systems and characterization


When it comes to developing novel, patient-specific implants, for instance with biofunctionalized material surfaces, reliable standard operating procedures (SOPs) are paramount. They alone allow to assess beforehand the biological and immunobiological safety and functionality of the materials for their intended purpose.

Fraunhofer IKTS develops innovative in vitro test methods as well as standardized testing systems. In addition to the biological testing of ceramics and other implant materials in accordance with DIN EN ISO 10993, Fraunhofer IKTS also develops immunological compatibility tests. The conversion of experimental test approaches into client-specific, standardized test procedures is part of the service portfolio.

Furthermore, the researchers develop, in close cooperation with industry partners, innovative analysis technologies, sensors and devices to reliably and accurately detect biomedically relevant measured variables.