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Wet etch processing

Image Number 4 for United States Patent #7651946.

A method of wet etching produces high-precision microneedle arrays for use in medical applications. The method achieves precise process control over microneedle fabrication, at single wafer or batch-level, using wet etching of silicon with potassium hydroxide (KOH) solution by accurately identifying the etch time endpoint. Hence, microneedles of an exactly required height, shape, sharpness and surface quality are achieved. The outcome is a reliable, reproducible, robust and relatively inexpensive microneedle fabrication process. Microneedles formed by KOH wet etching have extremely smooth surfaces and exhibit superior mechanical and structural robustness to their dry etched counterparts. These properties afford extra reliability to such silicon microneedles, making them ideal for medical applications. The needles can also be hollowed. Wet etched silicon microneedles can then be employed as masters to replicate the improved surface and structural properties in other materials (such as polymers) by moulding.

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