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Development of a continuously operating glucose monitor


The detection and quantitative determination of biomolecules is a central task in modern biotechnology and medicine, for which smart solutions may be supplied by microelectronics technology. In particular, the continuous monitoring of blood sugar (glucose) in diabetics is a pressing issue, since the diabetes mellitus disease has taken pandemic-like dimensions and poses severe economic constraints to the public health system. The high costs are mainly due to diabetes-related complications, which are often caused by an inadequate blood sugar adjustment. In consequence, persistent hyperglycaemic conditions often occur that cause vascular damage and may lead to cardiac infarctions and apoplectic strokes. It would thus be highly desirable to dispose of a method for continuous glucose monitoring, by which the patient is instaneously informed about inadequate blood sugar levels.

IHP's Contribution

A sensor chip has been developed at IHP that determines glucose levels by the principle of affinity viscosimetry. The chip is fabricated as a fully embedded microelectromechanical system (MEMS), in which the viscosity of a liquid is determined from the bending of an elastic cantilever [1]. Within the GlucoPlant project we currently investigate, whether the sensor chip may apply for an implantable glucose monitor. The answer to this question will be decided by the long-term biostability of the sensor chip [2] and by the degree of miniaturization to be achieved for the full system. The latter point has been solved successfully thanks to modern micro technologies that allowed the sensor chip to be fully operative and to exhibit miniature dimensions of 1.3 x 0.4 x 0.2 mm only [3].


The GlucoPlant project is funded within the "Intelligente Implantate" program of Bundesministerium für Forschung und Wissenschaft (BMBF) via Projektträger VDI/VDE-IT Berlin.

Selected Publications

  1. M. Birkholz, K.-E. Ehwald, P. Kulse, J. Drews, M. Fröhlich, U. Haak, M. Kaynak, E. Matthus, K. Schulz, D. Wolansky, Ultrathin TiN-Membranes as a Technology Platform for CMOS-integrated MEMS and BioMEMS devices, Advanced Functional Materials 21 (2011) 1652-1656.

  2. M. Fröhlich, M. Birkholz, K.-E. Ehwald, P. Kulse, O. Fursenko, J. Katzer, Biostability of an implantable glucose sensor chip, IOP Conference Series: Materials Science and Engineering 41 (2012) 012022.

  3. M. Birkholz, K.-E. Ehwald, T. Basmer, P. Kulse, C. Reich, J. Drews, D. Genschow, U. Haak, S. Marschmeyer, E. Matthus, K. Schulz, D. Wolansky, W. Winkler, T. Guschauski, R. Ehwald, Sensing glucose concentrations at GHz frequencies with a fully embedded Biomicro-electromechanical system (BioMEMS), Journal of Applied Physics 113 (2013) 244904.
The building and the infrastructure of the IHP were funded by the European Regional Development Fund of the European Union, funds of the Federal Government and also funds of the Federal State of Brandenburg.