Zarlink Creates Implantable Transceiver Chip for Medical Monitoring

Zarlink Semiconductor Inc. (NYSE/TSX:ZL) introduced the ZL(TM)70101 transceiver chip, an ultra low-power RF system-on-a-chip solution for use in both implanted medical devices and monitoring base stations. Building on Zarlink’s MICS technology platform, the ZL70101 transceiver chip delivers high data rates, low power consumption and unique wake-up circuitry. Using Zarlink’s MICS technology, medical device manufacturers can design in-body communication systems that will improve patient care, lower healthcare costs, and support new monitoring, diagnostic and therapeutic applications.

Zarlink ZL 70101 transceiver chip for use in implanted medical devices and monitoring base stationsPrevious home health-monitoring systems required the patient to accurately position an inductive wand over the implanted device. In comparison, using Zarlink MICS technology, patient health and implanted device performance data can be stored in the implanted medical device’s memory and wirelessly transmitted to a base station, without requiring patient intervention. Data can then be forwarded over the telephone or Internet to a physician’s office. If a problem is detected, the physician will schedule a patient follow-up visit where the two-way RF link can be used to interrogate and adjust implanted device performance.

During surgery to implant medical devices, the longer operating range of the ZL70101 chip allows the base station/programmer to be located outside the sterile environment. This potentially shortens surgery times and reduces healthcare costs, as programming equipment does not have to be sterilized for use in the operating room.

Ultra low-power RF technology is also enabling a range of new diagnostics and therapies, including implanted devices used to monitor and treat diabetes, neurostimulators that alleviate chronic pain or lessen the debilitating effects of Parkinson’s disease and dystonia, and gastric stimulators that may offer a viable alternative in the treatment of obesity.

“As in-body communication systems evolve to support advanced diagnostics and therapies, it’s critical that radio performance does not impact the battery life of an implanted medical device,” said Steve Swift, senior vice president and general manager, Ultra Low-Power Communications, Zarlink Semiconductor. “The ZL70101 transceiver offers unparalleled data rates and ultra low-power consumption performance in a highly integrated package, backed by Zarlink’s established expertise in meeting the unique quality requirements for devices intended for human implant.”

Wake-up circuitry supporting ultra low-power performance
To help conserve implanted medical device battery life, in-body communication systems transmit data on a scheduled or as-required basis. The ZL70101 transceiver incorporates a unique “wake-up” receiver that allows the integrated circuit to operate in an extremely low current 250 nA (nanoamp) “sleep” mode. Communication is then initiated using a specially coded wake-up signal from the base station transmitter. The implanted medical device can also wake up the ZL70101 radio on detection of an emergency medical event. An emergency signal could then be sent to the base station, which in turn could directly alert paramedics.

When in full operation the ZL70101 typically consumes 5 mA (milliamps) of supply current. By using the high data rate with heavy duty-cycling, the average power consumed by the ZL70101 can be very small. This conserves overall implanted medical device battery life.

Highly integrated solution with on-chip MAC
The highly integrated ZL70101 system-on-chip includes a MAC that implements a communication protocol specifically designed for the requirements of high-reliability implanted medical devices and is fully compliant to current MICS standards. The MAC protocol includes Reed-Solomon forward error correction together with CRC (cyclical redundancy check) error detection and retransmission to achieve an extremely reliable data link. The chip requires just three external components, excluding antenna matching, allowing device manufacturers to use board space savings to increase battery size and support advanced functionality while lowering overall system BoM (bill of material) cost.

Availability and packaging
The ZL70101 transceiver chip is available as implantable-grade wire-bondable die or in a 48-pin QFN (quad flat no-lead) package for the non-implanted base station applications. The chip is fully supported by a reference system and application development kit. Full ZL70101 product information, including complete data sheet, design manual and pricing, is available for qualified customers.

About Zarlink Semiconductor
For over 30 years, Zarlink Semiconductor has delivered semiconductor solutions that drive the capabilities of voice, enterprise, broadband and wireless communications. The Company’s success is built on its technology strengths including voice and data networks, optoelectronics and ultra low-power communications.

Zarlink and the Zarlink Semiconductor logo are trademarks of Zarlink Semiconductor Inc.