This paper summarizes the results of an EU project called ACTION: ACTive Implant for Optoacoustic Natural sound
enhancement. The project is based on a recent discovery that relatively low levels of pulsed infrared laser light are capable
of triggering activity in hair cells of the partially hearing (hearing impaired) cochlea and vestibule. The aim here is the
development of a self-contained, smart, highly miniaturized system to provide optoacoustic stimuli directly from an array
of miniature light sources in the cochlea. Optoacoustic compound action potentials (oaCAP) are generated by the light
source fully inserted into the unmodified cochlea. Previously, the same could only be achieved with external light sources
connected to a fiber optic light guide. This feat is achieved by integrating custom made VCSEL arrays at a wavelength of
about 1550 nm onto small flexible substrates. The laser light is collimated by a specially designed silicon-based ultra-thin
lens (165 um thick) to get the energy density required for the generation of oaCAP signals. A dramatic miniaturization of
the packaging technology is also required. A long term biocompatible and hermetic sapphire housing with a size of less
than a 1 cubic millimeter and miniature Pt/PtIr feedthroughs is developed, using a low temperature laser assisted process
for sealing. A biofouling thin film protection layer is developed to avoid fibrinogen and cell growth on the system.
S. Mohrdiek, M. Fretz, R. Jose James, G. Spinola Durante, T. Burch, A. Kral, A. Rettenmaier, R. Milani, M. Putkonen, W. Noell, M. Ortsiefer, A. Daly, V. Vinciguerra, C. Garnham, and D. Shah, "Active implant for optoacoustic natural sound enhancement," Proc. SPIE 10052, Optogenetics and Optical Manipulation, 100520K (Presented at SPIE BiOS: January 29, 2017; Published: 8 February 2017); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2251912.
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