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SCHOTT solutions no. 1/2016 > Biocompatible glass

Biocompatible glass
If you want to travel with a pet within the EU, chipping of that animal has been mandatory since 2012. In most cases, the transponder (top right) is injected into the left side of the animal’s neck. Photo: SCHOTT/A. Sell

Identification by Microchip

The unique identification process for animals is an advancement welcomed by both livestock farmers and pet owners alike. Injected transponders made out of biocompatible glass from SCHOTT are known for being both tolerable and reliable.

Dr. Haike Frank

Anyone who has ever gone through the ordeal of losing a beloved pet that has run away only to see it returned safely after searching for hours will gladly tell you how happy they were that the process for chipping animals has done its job and brought their pet back home. Now, an increasing number of the approximately 250 million domestic animals in Europe are getting an identification number, either through tattooing or microchipping, with their owner information registered in a central animal database. Tasso e.V., Europe’s largest organization for registering domestic animals, has listed over 7.7 million pets and claims to have assisted in the return of about 60,000 missing pets in 2014. What was once accomplished through the common practice of tattooing the animal with a letter or number combination on its ear is slowly being replaced with an RFID microchip (radio-frequency identification that uses electromagnetic waves). A transponder no larger than a grain of rice is injected into the tissue of an animal on the left side of the neck, which has become the international standard location for placing the chip.
Photo: SCHOTT/A. Sell
”I have been microchipping domestic animals for several years now, and my experience with the process is that the animals tolerate the chips really well. Chipping is very easy to do, and the identification data normally can be retained for a lifetime,” notes veterinarian Dr. Christiane Müller, who runs a practice in the small town of Langenlonsheim, Germany.
A reader held about five centimeters above the neck of the animal reads the 15-digit number. This number can then be used to assign the animal to its registered owner. Photo: SCHOTT/A. Sell

A scanner held roughly five centimeters above the nape of the animal’s neck reads the 15-digit number on the embedded chip. The transponder itself is passive, containing a copper coil, which, with the help of electromagnetic waves at a low frequency of 134.2 kHz emitted from the scanning device, reads the unique identification number. Aided by an induction field, the number stored in the chip in the form of a binary code is sent to the scanner and displayed on the device.

Biocompatible glass protects electronics

SCHOTT has developed a special biocompatible glass for the microchipping process, which is produced at its manufacturing site in Landshut, Germany. Under the name ”8625,” the biocompatible glass has been successfully implemented in pets and livestock for more than 20 years. ”No one else on the market except SCHOTT provides and manufactures transponder casings made from tissue tolerable glass,” Cornelia Rusche, Sales Manager for transponder glass tubes at SCHOTT, proudly notes.
An RFID microchip is protected by a biocompatible glass tube. The smallest transponders are about the size of a grain of rice. Photo: Thinkstock
At its facility in Mitterteich, Germany, SCHOTT manufactures high-purity glass tubes for pharmaceutical applications. This specialty glass is melted and then drawn into tubes in diameters ranging from 1.2 mm to 4 mm. In Landshut, these tubes then undergo further processing before they are delivered to the transponder manufacturer, who finally inserts the antenna and ferrite bead into the chip. The specialty glass properties allow the manufacturer to seal the open end of the transponder with an infrared laser. ”We work very closely with our customers so that they can efficiently carry out this step in the process to ensure that the transponder can be hermetically sealed,” explains Rusche. “Other sealing techniques that use a flame to create the seal could damage the sensitive components and are thus out of the question when it comes to utilization,” adds the expert. Microchips for identifying animals are also used with livestock as an alternative to earmarking since sheep and goats sometimes get caught in the shrubs and often rip them out. The transponders for livestock are generally larger than those used for pets since the animal identification scanning devices, which are permanently installed in the gates or fencing, have a greater functionality range. In turn, stock farmers can better monitor their herds and identify a sick animal more quickly. RFID chips also make it easier to trace meat.

At SCHOTT, the product developers are already looking into new applications for this technology. One idea being investigated includes the measurement of certain health values with an implanted chip. ”For these applications, SCHOTT offers its miniaturized glass tubing made from biocompatible 8625 glass, in which the sensors can be integrated with a feedthrough made of metal or with an optical interface,” explains Rusche.
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