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  • Microspheres for Medical Devices – MDDI Magazine – January 2011

    The Microsphere of Influence

    Published: January 2011, MDDI

    Published on MDDI Magazine
    By: Yelena Lipovetskaya

    Find more content on: Feature, Nano and Microtechnology, Technology, Testing and Inspection

    Microspheres come in many different grades and sizes, and are usually solid particles that are composed of polymers, glass, and ceramics. All images courtesy of COSPHERIC LLC

    Microspheres are round microparticles that typically range from 1 to 1000 μm in diameter. In the pharmaceutical and cosmetics industry, microspheres are well known for their ability to deliver active materials. This process usually involves the microencapsulation of a drug or an active cosmetic ingredient to protect it from the deteriorating effects of the environment or for optimal release and performance in the final product. Active ingredients are released by dissolution of the capsule walls, mechanical rupture (rubbing, pressure, or impact), melting, or digestion processes. Solid microspheres are widely used as fillers and spacers in a variety of industries.

    Microspheres used to manufacture and test medical devices are typically solid particles that are made from robust and stable raw materials such as polymers, glass, and in some cases, ceramics. Different types and grades of microspheres are available and selected based on specific application requirements.

    They are often used as tracers and challenge particles in medical devices. In these situations, it is beneficial to use larger microspheres with sphere diameters greater than 50 μm that are vividly colored (red, blue, black, yellow, or green), since they provide contrast with the background material and visibility to the naked eye in daylight. Colored microspheres are typically used in the testing of filtration media and systems, vial and container cleaning evaluations, flow tracing and fluid mechanics, centrifugation and sedimentation processes, pharmaceutical manufacturing, and contamination control.

    Fluorescent microspheres are recommended for applications that require the use of particles that emit distinctive colors when illuminated by UV light and offer additional sensitivity for observation through the use of microscopes, lasers, and other analytical methods. Examples include microcirculation and biological research, imaging, and flow cytometry. Fluorescent microspheres can be excited and detected by a wide range of methods and are useful as experimental particles for acoustical and optical analytical systems.

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