Researchers have discovered how to power medical implants by sending photons through translucent human skin.
FREMONT, CA: Outfitting the human body with vital sign-reading sensors and cybernetic implants is a sci-fi fantasy, yet one that's closer to reality. Over the last few, medical implant devices like pacemakers, which can regulate the heart rate, and cerebral spinal shunts, which can control the flow of spinal fluid, have evolved in popularity. But, replacing their batteries when they run out of energy can involve a challenging operation that has its own risks for the patient. Taking a significant step toward clearing that daunting roadblock, researchers have developed a new way that can allow internal batteries to be recharged without invasive surgery or risky penetrative procedures.
Taking energy from the natural translucency of human skin, the research team developed an active photonic power transfer method, which can create electrical power in the body. The system consists of two parts including a skin-attachable micro-LED source patch that generates photons that would penetrate through the tissues, and a photovoltaic device integrated into a medical implant that captures the photons and generates electrical energy. This system is expected to provide a sustainable way of charging the medical implant with enough power to avoid any high-risk replacement methods.
Presently, a lack of a reliable power source limits the functionality and performance of implant devices. The ability to secure enough electrical power in the human body can definitely help develop new types of medical implants with diverse functions and high performance. The latest wireless power transfer system is found to be easy to use, regardless of weather, clothes, or environmental conditions. The light photons emitted from the source have successfully penetrated live tissues and recharged the device in a convenient and wireless method.
Moving beyond medical devices is not just a pipe dream as humans become more comfortable with the notion of consuming medical implants that will live inside them collecting biometric data or even augmenting our senses is not far-fetched to dream cyborgs brimming with under-the-skin electronics. The latest charging breakthrough is one step toward realizing the future of those types of technologies.