Prof. Yu-Chong Tai from California Institute of Technology


Topic: Advanced MEMS Implants

Time: 10:00AM 22th January 2016


Speaker: Yu-Chong Tai

Anna L. Rosen Prof. of EE and ME 

Chair and Prof. of Medical Engineering (Mede) 

Division of Engineering and Applied Science 


The field of Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS) has advanced tremendously for the last 20 years.  Most commercially noticeably, the field has successfully advanced from pressure sensors to micro sensors, such as accelerometers and gyros, for cell phone and wearable applications. Looking forward, though, I would like to discuss new but extremely promising direction towards micro biomedical implants.

Why micro implants? Body tissues (especially neurons), once severely damaged, do not repair or regenerate easily, and often leave behind permanent debilitating deficits. Engineering implant technologies to interface intact tissues and/or to replace defective functions have continued to be the main solutions for many diseases. As our world is facing more severe population aging problems, significant growth in new body implants is predicted. In fact, even currently commercial implants also have a lot of room for improvement. For example, in our standards, cardiovascular and cochlear implants are still bulky, mechanically rigid, power hungry, and functionally limited for delicate and small organs. The future implants should be even more miniature, flexible, power efficient, etc. and can be placed at where no previous implants have gone before. This work will discuss our research experience on applying new technologies to develop a new generation of MEMS implants that feature small size and new functionalities. Examples will be given to include retinal implant, spinal cord implant, brain implants, accommodating intraocular lens, etc. Related materials including materials, biomechanics and biology will also be discussed. As so, many serious diseases can greatly benefit from MEMS technologies including but not limited to cataract, glaucoma, aged-related macular disease, diabetes retinopathy, and spinal cord injury. 
Dr. Yu-Chong Tai is the Anna L. Rosen Professor of Electrical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering. He is also the founding Executive Officer of the new Medical Engineering Department of California Institute of Technology (i.e., Caltech). While a graudate student, he developed the first electrically-spun polysilicon micromotor at UC Berkeley. He is the recipient of the Ross Tucker Award, Best Thesis Award (EECS, UC Berkeley), Presidential Young Investigator (PYI) Award, Packard Award, ALA Achievement Award, Popular Mechanics’ Breakthrough Award, and the 2015 IEEE Robert Bosch MEMS/NEMS Award. He has more than 700 articles/patents in the field of MEMS. He is an IEEE Fellow. After joining Caltech, he built a research program on micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) research especially for MEMS and biomedical devices ( He has been working on micro sensors and actuators, lab-on-a-chip diagnostics, retinal implants, spinal cord implants, brain implants, micro drug delivery, etc. His research is to apply micro and nano technologies to build future medical devices.