Purdue News

April 17, 2006

Engineers creating small wireless device to improve cancer treatment

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Engineers at Purdue University are creating a wireless device the size of a rice grain that could be implanted in tumors to tell doctors the precise dose of radiation received and locate the exact position of tumors during treatment.

Babak Ziaie shows a
prototype device

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caption below

Researchers at Purdue's Birck Nanotechnology Center have tested a dime-size prototype to prove the concept and expect to have the miniature version completed by the end of summer, said Babak Ziaie (pronounced Zee-Eye-Eee), an associate professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

"Currently, there is no way of knowing the exact dose of radiation received by a tumor," Ziaie said. "And, because most organs shift inside the body depending on whether a patient is sitting or lying down, for example, the tumor also shifts. This technology will allow doctors to pinpoint the exact position of the tumor to more effectively administer radiation treatments."

Research findings were detailed in a paper that appeared earlier this year in proceedings of the 19th IEEE International Conference on Micro Electro Mechanical Systems, a conference organized by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. The paper was written by doctoral student Chulwoo Son and Ziaie.

The device, a "passive wireless transponder," has no batteries and will be activated with electrical coils placed next to the body.

"It will be like a capsule placed into the tumor with a needle," said Ziaie, who has a dual appointment in Purdue's Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering.

Although imaging systems now used can provide a three-dimensional fix on a tumor's shifting position during therapy, these methods are not easy to use during radiation therapy, are costly and sometimes require X-rays, which can damage tissue when used repeatedly, he said.

Doctors could use the wireless technology, however, to precisely track a tumor by using three or six coils placed around the body to pinpoint the location of the electronic device, Ziaie said.

Researchers tested the prototype with a radioactive material called cesium.

The device, which contains a miniature version of dosimeters worn by people in occupations involving radioactivity, could provide up-to-date information about the cumulative dose a tumor is receiving over time.

The technology uses the same principle as electret microphones, popular products found in consumer electronics stores. The microphones contain a membrane that vibrates in response to sound waves. Between the membrane and a metal plate is an air gap that serves as a capacitor, or a device that stores electricity. As the membrane vibrates, the size of the air gap changes slightly, increasing and decreasing the capacitance and altering the flow of electric current through the circuit, creating a signal that transmits information stored in the dosimeter.

"It's basically like a very small tuning circuit in your radio," Ziaie said. "This will be a radiation dosimeter plus a tracking device in the same capsule. It will be hermetically sealed so that it will not have to be removed from the body."

The device is an example of a microelectromechanical system, or a tiny mechanical device fabricated using methods generally associated with microelectronics.

The Purdue engineers have begun working with researchers at the Indiana University School of Medicine to further develop the technology.

The research has been funded by the National Science Foundation.

The Birck Nanotechnology Center is part of Purdue's Discovery Park, the university's hub for interdisciplinary research.

Writer: Emil Venere, (765) 494-4709, venere@purdue.edu

Sources: Babak Ziaie, (765) 494-0725, bziaie@purdue.edu

Chulwoo Son: cson@purdue.edu

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; purduenews@purdue.edu

 

Note to Journalists: An electronic copy of the research paper is available from Emil Venere, (765) 494-4709, venere@purdue.edu.

 

PHOTO CAPTION:
Purdue engineer Babak Ziaie shows the prototype wireless device he has developed with doctoral student Chulwoo Son at the university's Birck Nanotechnology Center. The technology will be shrunk to the size of a rice grain so that devices can be implanted into tumors to tell doctors the precise dose of radiation being received through therapy and to locate a tumor's exact position during treatment. (Purdue News Service photo/David Umberger)

A publication-quality photo is available at http://news.uns.purdue.edu/images/+2006/ziaie-transmitter.jpg

 


ABSTRACT

A Micromachined Electret-Based Transponder
for In-Situ Radiation Measurement

C. Son and B. Ziaie,
School of Electrical and Computer Engineering,
Birck Nanotechnology Center, Purdue University

This paper reports on the development of a micromachined passive transponder for in-situ measurement of ionizing radiation. ?-ray exposure is remotely measured by monitoring the resonance frequency change correlated with a change in the surface charge of an electret. This is achieved through a micromachined capacitor with a movable plate that is partially-filled with a Teflon® electret and connected in parallel with an inductor, forming a passive LC tank (a micro-ionization chamber, 1.5cm in diameter and 3mm in thickness). Test results show that an exposure of 60,000R from a Cs137 produces a 687kHz resonance frequency shift (sensitivity of 11.45kHz/kR).


 

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