STMicro, Bluechiip manufacture MEMS-based tracking tags for biobank apps - Small Times
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STMicro, Bluechiip manufacture MEMS-based tracking tags for biobank apps

January 20, 2011 - PRNewswire -- STMicroelectronics (NYSE: STM), micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) devices supplier to consumer and portable applications, and Bluechiip Limited, an early-stage company that has developed a tracking solution, will cooperate in the manufacturing of MEMS-based tracking tags, aimed initially at healthcare applications, such as biobanks.

As the bluechiip tracking tag is a mechanical device, it can survive and read sample IDs in extremely high and low temperatures, in addition to its immunity to gamma irradiation. This robustness provides significant advantages over more traditional identification or tracking solutions, such as labels, barcodes or RFID technologies, and provides the necessary high levels of data surety in the rapidly growing and labor-intensive healthcare markets, especially in biobanking.

This new technology enables data to be read at temperatures as low as those reached in liquid nitrogen, approximately –196C, and as high as 200C. Data can also be transmitted through frost. Bluechiip's tracking solution has also been field-proven to survive autoclaving, gamma irradiation sterilization, humidification, centrifuging, cryogenic storage and frosting.

The technology is based on MEMS-based resonators within a tiny, purely mechanical chip, containing no electronics. The tracking tag, which comprises this mechanical chip and an antenna, can either be embedded or manufactured into a storage product, such as a vial or a bag. Easy identification, along with any associated information from the tag can be detected by a reader, which can also log the temperature history of the tagged items.

"Bluechiip's tag technology coupled with ST's MEMS design and manufacturing expertise will make available an extremely robust and valuable tracking capability for many applications in healthcare and other markets," said Benedetto Vigna, Group Vice President and General Manager, MEMS, Sensor and High-Performance Analog Division, STMicroelectronics. "ST has a long history in the industrialization of innovative technologies and applications, and this cooperation with Bluechiip will further extend ST's expertise in biosensors, while also complementing and reinforcing its leadership in MEMS overall."

These tags will first be molded into test tubes and vials for the biobank market to identify, track, retrieve, monitor and store human biospecimens, including tissue, embryos and cord blood in liquid nitrogen. Although the Bluechiip tracking technology has initial applications in the healthcare industry, it also has applications in pathology, clinical trials, biorepositories and forensics. Other key markets for the technology could include security, defense, industrial, manufacturing, waste, aerospace and aviation.

In March 2009, TIME Magazine highlighted biobanking as one of '10 Ideas Changing the World Right Now'. The growth of biobanks worldwide has been exponential; recent studies estimate that hundreds of millions of tissue samples are stored in U.S. biobanks and greater than one billion are stored worldwide.  In a recent report by Visiongain titled 'Biobanking for Medical R&D: Technology and Market 2010-2025', the market for biobanking (sales of biobank resources or services) in 2009 was estimated to be worth $8B and is expected to reach $45B by 2025.

STMicroelectronics provides innovative semiconductor solutions for multimedia convergence and power applications. Further information on ST can be found at

bluechiip is an advanced tracking and bio-monitoring chaperon technology designed to revolutionize biosample lifecycle and process chain management relevant to bioresource laboratories. Further information on Bluechiip can be found at

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