USC researchers design micro drug-delivery systems

July 17, 2008 — Researchers at the University of Southern California’s Information Sciences Institute (ISI) have demonstrated a way to manufacture micro-scale containers from polysilicon sitting on top of a thin film of gold. The containers, they say, could be used to deliver precise micro- or even nano- quantities of drugs.

The team — consisting of research professor Peter Will, professor of chemistry Bruce Koel (who has since moved on to Lehigh University), former post-doctoral researcher Alejandro Bugacov, and former grad student (now graduate) Rob Gagler — folded a number of different shapes, including four- and five-sided pyramids, pentagonal ‘lotus’ shapes, and simple square plates that folded over each other to make flat mini-envelopes.

Will has been pursuing the idea of creating “voxels” (voxel meaning volume element) for many years, “way back to my days in HP labs, when I was working in Medical and Chemical applications,” he says.

The USC team designed the chips using MEMSPRO CAD software; the actual chip fabrication was done in France.

“The experimental work was done on campus,” said Will, “since ISI doesn’t have a wet lab.”

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