Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Comparison of Sterilization Technologies on Electronics

Although there is considerable literature about sterilization methods, there is little written about the impact of sterilization on electronics. Thanks to the advances in semiconductor and packaging technologies, integrated circuits (ICs) are found in a widening selection of equipment including medical devices. For these devices’ applications, they must remain free from harmful contaminants such as fungi, bacteria, viruses, and spores. Therefore, Maxim Integrated Products, Inc performed a study in June 2010 comparing the biocidal efficacy and material compatibility of steam, Ethylene (EtO), Gaseous Chlorine Dioxide (CD), Vapor Phase Hydrogen Peroxide (VPHP), Hydrogen Peroxide Plasma, Gamma radiation, and Electron Beam sterilization suitability for objects containing batteries or electronics.

The complete application note can be read here, but Table 1 summarizes the methods discussed and their compatibility to embedded electronics. Chlorine dioxide has no known adverse effects on electronic components and is, therefore, the best overall choice for compatibility. EtO and VPHP are noted as excellent choices for electronic medical devices that do not include batteries. Other methods might require electronics to be modified specifically for exposure.

ClorDiSys had no involvement with any testing or research in the development of Maxim’s Application Note.

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