Stanford team demonstrates tiny, wireless powered pacemaker

By Brian Dolan
02:44 am
Stanford wireless powered pacemaker

"A team of engineers at Stanford has shown that, contrary to earlier models, high-frequency wireless power transmission to a device in the human body is possible. These images show power delivery to the human heart from a 200MHz low-frequency transmitter (left) and a 1.7GHz high-frequency transmitter (right). Red indicates greatest power; blue is least. Note focusing of power on the heart in the right image." Image Credit: John Ho, Stanford Engineering.

Following a breakthrough in the application of wireless electricity for implantable devices, researchers at Stanford University have unveiled a new, tiny pacemaker that is so small it could fit on the head of a pin. The same team of Stanford researchers developed a tiny medical sensor, which MobiHealthNews reported on in February, that can float through a person's blood vessels, powered by a person's pulse. The new device is contained in a cube the size of eight tenths of a millimeter.

The Stanford team recently demonstrated the implantable cardiac device, which is powered by radio waves transmitted from outside the body.

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According to a report in the Daily Mail, the researchers believe that the technology has applications beyond pacemaker, to include other implantable devices including swallowable endoscopes known as pillcams that travel through digestive tract, permanent pacemakers, and precision brain stimulators.

The researchers, who published their findings in the journal Applied Physics Letters, demonstrated "wireless power transfer to a millimeter-sized device implanted five centimeters inside the chest on the surface of the heart—a depth once thought out of reach for wireless power transmission," according to the Daily Mail report.

In February, the team's lead researcher, electrical engineer and Stanford assistant professor Ada Poon, demonstrated a tiny, wireless powered, self propelled medical device capable of controlled motion through blood, which the school said could lead to an era of “swallow the surgeon” medical care. Poon showed off the device during a demo at the International Solid-State Circuits Conference earlier this year. Stanford predicts that those devices “could travel through the bloodstream to deliver drugs, perform analyses, and perhaps even zap blood clots or remove plaque from sclerotic arteries.”

More on Poon's latest innovation over at the Daily Mail.


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