This Irish chip has heart: Boston Scientific and MCCI in nano breakthrough

6 Oct 2016

The new chip will enable smaller, more manageable pacemakers in the future. Image: wk1003mike/Shutterstock

A new nanotech chip developed by Tyndall-based MCCI and medtech giant Boston Scientific could make heart pacemakers more efficient.

The chip, co-developed by Microelectronic Circuits Centre Ireland (MCCI) and Boston Scientific, could make heart pacemakers more convenient for patients too.

MCCI, which is funded by IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland, is a collaboration between the Tyndall National Institute and the University of Limerick. MCCI has core funding of €1m per annum from the semi-state bodies, which is supplemented with other funds from industry and public sources.

‘The biomedical circuits research capability in MCCI is now a critical part of securing and growing Boston Scientific’s R&D presence in Ireland’

The nanowatt power biomedical integrated circuit (IC) developed by MCCI and Boston Scientific includes power management, a flexible microprocessor interface and therapy monitoring, which supports pacemaker and neurostimulation therapy applications.

The prototype chip also incorporates a novel instrumentation amplifier to allow pacemaker devices to more effectively sense biopotential signals.

Novel design employed in Irish nanochip

“We have combined the pacemaker and other novel circuits into a single chip in order to make them smarter, more sensitive and more power-efficient, in addition to reducing form factor,” explains Donnacha O’Riordan, MCCI executive director.

“The programmable integrated circuit uses separate channels on a single chip for sensing the activity of the heart and for setting the pace of beating.

“This research will enable smaller implantable pacemakers in the future, which would result in less invasive procedures to implant them and the devices would need to be replaced less frequently, firmly establishing MCCI as a centre of excellence for biomedical microelectronics research,” O’Riordan said.

MCCI and Boston Scientific collaborated on the research program through a two-year Innovation Partnership supported by Enterprise Ireland and led by Gerry McGlinchey and Dr Ivan O’Connell at MCCI.

Five years ago, reported how Boston Scientific planned to invest €26m to boost R&D at its Clonmel facility.

“The relationship with MCCI has enabled a unique and accessible model of access to leading circuit design research, talented researchers and a flexible, business-like IP model,” explained Michael Keane, process development director at Boston Scientific, Clonmel.

“The biomedical circuits research capability in MCCI is now a critical part of securing and growing Boston Scientific’s R&D presence in Ireland.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years