A microfabrication process is proposed to produce a nanopore membrane for continuous passive drug release to maintain constant drug concentrations in the patient’s blood throughout the delivery period. Based on silicon microfabrication technology, the dimensions of the nanochannel area, as well as microchannel area, can be precisely controlled, thus providing a steady, constant drug release rate within an extended time period. The multilayered nanochannel structures extend the limit of release rate range of a single-layer nanochannel system, and allow a wide range of pre-defined porosity to achieve any arbitrary drug release rate using any preferred nanochannel size. This membrane system could also be applied to molecular filtration or isolation. In this case, the nanochannel length can be reduced to the nanofabrication limit, i.e., 10s of nm.

The nanochannel delivery system membrane is composed of a sandwich of a thin top layer, the horizontal nanochannels, and a thicker bottom wafer. The thin top layer houses an array of microchannels that offers the inlet port for diffusing molecules. It also works as a lid for the nanochannels by providing the channels a top surface. The nanochannels are fabricated by a sacrificial layer technique that obtains smooth surfaces and precisely controlled dimensions. The structure of this nanopore membrane is optimized to yield high mechanical strength and high throughput.

This work was done by Mauro Ferrari, Xuewu Liu, Alessandro Grattoni, Daniel Fine, Sharath Hosali, Randi Goodall, Ryan Medema, and Lee Hudson of the University of Texas Health Science Center for Johnson Space Center. For further information, contact the JSC Innovation Partnerships Office at (281) 483-3809.

In accordance with Public Law 96-517, the contractor has elected to retain title to this invention. Inquiries concerning rights for its commercial use should be addressed to:

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