Tyndall essentially takes a silicon wafer and bathes it in hot potassium hydroxide in a tightly controlled manner. (The wet etching is stopped and started several times.) The chemicals etch away silicon until you are left with eight-sided needles.
Some large pharmaceutical companies currently make microneedle patches. The needles, however, are made of metal, which is getting more expensive. Other researchers are working on silicon microneedles but use a dry etch process, which results in more brittle needles. The needles in the wet etch patch are more robust, claims Conor O'Mahony, who is trying to develop patches and applications for microneedle arrays at Tyndall. The sides of the microneedles from the wet etch process are also smooth, so they don't pull tissue out. That is important because if tissue cells get pulled out, they can drag medicine with them.
March 4, 2008 4:57 PM PST
Photo by: Tyndall
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