Our life expectancy keeps increasing but we still want to stay fit and healthy. In an aging society, innovations in medicine are becoming more important for Germany as a country with a strong base in research and economics, as well as the development of new minimally-invasive methods of operating or imaging procedures, in diagnosis and in regenerative medicine. In all these, Materials science and engineering is indispensable.
Traditionally. Germany is internationally renowned for its pharmaceutical industry (aspirin, contraceptive pill, HPV vaccination). In a way, even bacteriology was “invented” by Robert Koch (1876) – a prerequisite ensuring that bio-compatible permanent implants made of intermetallic phases or bio-ceramics could be best adapted to the conditions in the human body. From here, it is just a small step to German microsystems technology, which is also based on new materials: in 1997, the Otto Bock Healthcare Ltd. from Düderstadt, introduced the first completely micro- processor controlled knee joint.
Today, ferromagnetic materials send medication directly to the source of the illness. Bio-resorbable stents and magnesium screws dissolve after vascular dilation or healing of bone fractures and are passed out of the body in a natural way, metallic foam structures replace bones entirely.