NIDCD-funded Researchers Look to Nanotechnology to Build Smaller, Mightier Implantable Hearing Device
December 17, 2002
NIDCD has awarded a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant to NanoBioMagnetics Inc. (NBMI), an Oklahoma City, Okla., bioengineering firm, to investigate the use of nanotechnology in developing components for a new generation of implantable hearing devices. Hough Ear Institute (HEI), a nonprofit research, educational, and humanitarian service institute, also of Oklahoma City, will help design and test the new components. Nanotechnology is the branch of science in which materials are manipulated atom by atom and molecule by molecule to create information systems and mechanical devices of exceedingly small size. Implantable hearing devices are an alternative to hearing aids that use externally- and internally-placed electronic components to deliver sound vibrations directly to the bones of the middle ear. The use of nanotechnology for the implantable hearing device could help produce components small enough to fit inside the middle ear but more powerful than today's devices.
NIDCD's SBIR program provides funds to businesses to facilitate the research, development, and commercialization of technologies that can assist people who have communication disorders. A similar program, the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program, provides funds to businesses that work cooperatively with research institutions to help move useful technologies developed in the laboratory into the marketplace.