Medical and Biotechnology

Lasers in medicine and biotechnology open up a variety of diagnostic and therapeutic applications. In particular, since laser-based optical measuring and processing processes do not need to touch the object, they are ideal tools for sterile conditions and in highly selective applications. While ophthalmic laser processes such as LASIK have largely become established in the market, microsurgical applications can still unlock great potential for new applications. In this context, Fraunhofer ILT is developing novel measurement methods based on optical coherence tomography (OCT), with which surgical procedures can be performed at micrometer precision.

In addition to the diagnostic and laser-based therapeutic methods, the field of tissue engineering is becoming increasingly important thanks to advances in laser technology. In this field, Fraunhofer ILT is looking at all aspects of tissue engineering – from material development to the production of biocompatible structures and their production with the laser all the way to the appropriate process measurement technology. This also includes the handling of biological material from classical cell lines to primary material. Suitable laboratories with S1 and, if necessary, S2 certification are available for this purpose. Moreover, the demand for innovative solutions is growing in implant technology. Based on patient-specific data, individual dental prostheses, artificial hip joints and bone substitutes for tumor treatments can be produced by laser-assisted 3D printing.

As increasingly personalized medicine continues to develop, new challenges in diagnostics and analytics emerge. Light as a non-contact instrument offers great advantages, both in the manufacture of appropriate instruments and in diagnostics itself. For the former, Fraunhofer ILT is developing various lab-on-a-chip solutions with which, for example, fast multiplex diagnostics are possible.

Customized spinal implants made with lasers

Additive cage made of Ti6Al4.
© Fraunhofer ILT, Aachen, Germany.

Additive cage made of Ti6Al4.

Standardized implants used in everyday clinical practice can be replaced by versions specific to a patient thanks to laser technology's ability to manufacture individualized implants. Fraunhofer ILT, together with physicians, is developing additively manufactured vertebral body implants that are individually designed and locally adapted for their geometry, rigidity and structure. Thus, for example, the implant failure of cages – i.e. inserts for the intervertebral space after surgical removal of intervertebral discs – can be significantly reduced. With the Department of Digital Additive Production DAP of RWTH Aachen University and within the framework of »EITPSI«, a project funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, Fraunhofer ILT is developing a process for the production of implants that are positively anchored to the bone contour and better adapted to the ingrowth behavior of the bone tissue. Laser Powder Bed Fusion (LPBF), also known as laser beam melting or Selective laser melting (SLM), produces a locally adapted lattice structure that takes into account individual stiffness values of the adjacent vertebrae and their bone density. In principle, the process can be extended to the production of all implants that should fuse with bone in the body.

Micrometer-accurate placement of biological substances with the LIFT process

Laser-induced forward transfer (LIFT) is the process in which a wafer-thin layer of titanium is vaporized on a substrate with a laser.
© Fraunhofer ILT, Aachen, Germany.

Laser-induced forward transfer (LIFT) is the process in which a wafer-thin layer of titanium is vaporized on a substrate with a laser.

The production of biological test systems is often limited by the viscosity of the biological substances to be applied to an analysis chip. To date, printing techniques require highly aqueous carrier liquids and do not allow accurate positioning of the analyte. With the LIFTSYS® system developed at Fraunhofer ILT, laser-induced forward transfer (LIFT) enables the micrometer-precise placement of minute amounts of biological substances and even single living cells with almost no restrictions. A pulsed laser beam is used to transmit the targeted sample material by a forward pulse from a carrier to a receiver. The process eliminates the need for a printing head and can transmit biomaterials such as RNA, DNA, proteins and cells regardless of viscosity.

A broad field of applications can be found in medical and pharmaceutical research, in which the reactions of cells to drugs can be investigated and microscopic interactions of cells conducted reproducibly. In addition, LIFT can be used to produce microstructures for sensors or scaffold structures of artificial organs.

Project Results 2017

Here you will find a selection of current collaborative projects

“AMable”

Support for the uptake of Additive Manufacturing

“futureAM”

Next Generation Additive Manufacturing

“ProImplant”

Process Chain for the Production of Degradable Magnesium Implants for Individual Bone Defects

Contact Persons

Dipl.-Ing. Hans-Dieter Hoffmann

“Lasers and Optics”

 

Telephone +49 241 8906-206
-> Send E-Mail

 

Dr.-Ing. Arnold Gillner

“Ablation and Joining”

 

Telephone +49 241 8906-148
-> Send E-Mail

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Johannes Henrich Schleifenbaum

“Additive Manufacturing
and Functional Layers”

 

Telephone +49 241 8906-398
-> Send E-Mail

Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Reinhard Noll

“Measurement Technology
and EUV Sources”

 

Telephone +49 241 8906-138
-> Send E-Mail