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Plaque characterization using microwave sensors in a catheter


The main objective of PlaqueCharm is to investigate and develop high-frequency sensors intended to be integrated in catheters for minimally invasive plaque characterization. In this regard, these high frequency sensors, based on IHP-BiCMOS technology, can offer a potential alternative or extension to already existing solutions thanks to their cheaper cost of fabrication and high frequency range flexibility.

IHP's Contribution

IHP is investigating several near-field sensing concepts. Based on their potential in terms of sensitivity and miniaturization, mainly two of them have been selected and a set of sensors operating at frequencies ranging from 8 to 60 GHz have been designed, fabricated and used to characterize biomaterials. A variant operated in Ka-band (27 GHz) has been selected to be integrated in a catheter based on an embedded stub in a Colpitts oscillator which acts as a variable capacitor, whose capacitance is function of the permittivity of its surroundings.


The sensors are first calibrated using reference materials of known permittivity at IHP. Following this first step, varied materials and solutions under controlled conditions are characterized to experimentally evaluate their sensitivity. Further on, selected sensors are used to determine concentrations of fat and calcium in water and blood solutions. These sensors demonstrate a realistic approach for miniaturized and cost effective plaque characterization and are being, within the PlaqueCharm consortium, integrated in a demonstrator in form of an experimental catheter, in order to be further evaluated.


This project is funded by the federal ministry of education and research (Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung, BMBF) with the grant number 16M3198A.

Project Partners

Otto-von-Guericke-Universität Magdeburg

Ruhr-Universität Bochum

Universitätsklinikum Gießen/Marburg GmbH

Primed Halberstadt Medizintechnik GmbH

The building and the infrastructure of the IHP were funded by the European Regional Development Fund of the European Union, funds of the Federal Government and also funds of the Federal State of Brandenburg.