Development of coated silicon microneedles for vaccine smart patch

Lead Research Organisation: Swansea University
Department Name: School of Engineering


Project Aims
This project will develop the silicon etch process technology to scale up the microneedle fabrication process from 100mm diameter wafers to 150mm diameter wafers - enabling more microneedle chips to be produced at lower cost. The process will be optimised using silicon smoothing and improved photolithography processes. The project will incorporate a self-release etch step into the fabrication process, so that microneedles can be easily separated from the wafer into individual devices. The project will also develop new plasma coating techniques to coat the microneedle in thin films which may be water repellent or non-stick, insulating or metallic. This will be achieved using Chemical Vapour Deposition, Molecular Vapour Deposition and electroplating.

This will allow development of a range of microneedle products for a variety of health and cosmetic applications.

The research engineer will use the facilities at the Centre for Nanohealth and the new £90 million Centre for Integrative Semiconductor Materials (CISM). Additionally, as the semiconductor community in South Wales is expanding rapidly the research engineer will receive training and preparation skills highly appropriate to a career in the semiconductor industry.

SPTS Technologies, a KLA company, designs, manufactures, sells, and supports etch, PVD, CVD and MDS capital equipment, providing advanced wafer processing technologies and solutions for the semiconductor and microelectronics industry. SPTS are experts in semiconductor film coatings, deposition and etch technology, their revenue generation is from equipment sales and support services supplied to customers in major foundries and IDMs servicing end-market applications including micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS), advanced packaging, LED, high-speed RF device IC's and power semiconductors. SPTS have a growing activity in technology and products related to BioMEMS and have been developing microneedle technology with Swansea University for drug and vaccine delivery applications.

SPTS Technologies - a global leader in wafer processing equipment for the semiconductor and related industries - have been working with Swansea University to apply novel deep-etch and deposition plasma process technology to Bio microelectromechanical systems (Bio-MEMS) and healthcare products.

One of these technologies is hollow silicon microneedles. They are the longest "out of plane", sharpest silicon microneedles in the world and have been demonstrated for insulin delivery and cell delivery.

More recently, SPTS microneedles have been used in the development of a smart patch for vaccine delivery and detection of a successful response to the vaccine by the body.

This could ultimately be used for vaccination and testing of vaccination efficacy for COVID and other viruses.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/S02252X/1 30/09/2019 30/03/2028
2597783 Studentship EP/S02252X/1 30/09/2021 29/09/2025 Megan McNamee