Medical devices usually have to be sterilized before they can be utilized. This is typically achieved by exposure to high levels of radiation and temperature. Electronic memory has always been a problem in such devices as the data in traditional Flash is corrupted by the sterilization process. Until now that is!
Adesto Technologies have announced a product range of sterilization tolerant memory based on CBRAM. The integrity data in these memory modules can withstand many times the gamma ray and electron dose that is required to sterilize electronic devices for medical use. This means that using CBRAM based memory, an electronic sub-system, complete with data required for operation such as boot code, can now be assembled into the complete package prior to sterilization. Using Flash, this is just not possible and requires an elaborate (i.e. expensive) work around to (re-)introduce the memory data after sterilization. In many cases these medical systems are completely sealed so this is not a trivial process.
The product development has come out of a collaboration between Adesto and Nordion, a specialty healthcare company whose main product are nuclear isotopes used in industrial and medical applications. Their Cobalt 60 is used in gamma ray systems to sterilize medical devices. Nordion run a Gamma-ray Center of Excellence (GCE) that provides calibrated exposure sources to develop radiation hard products and materials. More details in a Blog from last October.
CBRAM’s inherent low power requirement is also uniquely suited to this market enabling much more compact wearable devices and energy harvesting monitors. The combination of CBRAM’s properties of of low power, sterilization tolerant and high temperature tolerant offer an intriguing capability for new and improved devices, Across the medical field, applications include orthopaedics, smart syringes and sample containers along with surgical devices requiring sterilization before re-use. An example is that of network of wireless body sensor nodes incorporating CBRAM memory that can store data in situ without inconveniencing the patient with bulky power/recording units. Some time ago I had to wear a series of monitors connected together by a spider’s web of wires and a central control/power unit. This was for a week long test while I went about my ‘usual daily routine’. While the individual devices were relatively discrete, the wiring and control unit were sufficiently cumbersome that I had to modify my routine significantly which rather defeated the purpose of the test!
Christie Marrian, ReRAM Forum Moderator