Contactless power charging is something that lots of tech types are working on; the benefits of being able to recharge a device without plugging it in are obvious. But for medical implantables, the challenges are greater. For one thing, the device that requires power may be some distance from a reasonable power source.
Stanford University has produced research that promises to solve that problem, delivering power from a small device placed outside the body to another device implanted deep within. The lead researcher is Prof. Ada Poon, an electrical engineer, and the results were reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The details are complex, but essentially involves a method of converting microwave energy, which moves easily through the air, into a form that can be carried safely through body tissue. Poon has tested the system in a pig, and powered a pacemaker in a rabbit. Human tests are being prepared — although the tests, let alone commercial application, are years away.
From the Stanford press release:
Poon believes this discovery will spawn a new generation of programmable microimplants – sensors to monitor vital functions deep inside the body; electrostimulators to change neural signals in the brain; and drug delivery systems to apply medicines directly to affected areas.
Here’s a video where Dr. Poon explains her work. Fascinating.[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7WURJ9rgwjs]