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This revolutionary prototype paves the way for wireless charging of implants.
Medical technology advancements have allowed us to implant bioelectronic devices like pacemakers into human bodies, but energy sources for these systems either reside outside the body or use smaller batteries that need replacement.
Researchers at Lanzhou University in China have created a wireless charger that can be safely implanted inside the human body in the future, is biodegradable, and does not require removal or replacement once its function is completed.
Biodegradable power supply units exist, but they have limited energy storage capacities that result in the device being used for limited periods. An alternate solution is placing the power supply unit transdermally across the skin, but this approach increases the risk of inflammation at the site- a major problem if the implant is intended for long-term usage.
The researchers proposed a simple design that can both deliver high energy storage and is soft enough to adapt to different shapes of the tissues and organs in other parts of the body.
So how does it work? According to Interesting Engineering, the device is made of a magnesium coil, a charger, and zinc-ion hybrid supercapacitors that work as energy storage modules. Another magnesium coil is placed on top of the skin at the site of the implant, which works as a transmitting coil and helps the implant be wirelessly charged.
The power supply system and the functioning biocompatible implant can be placed inside polymer and wax layers, offering flexibility and protection from being degraded in the short term. Additionally, the device’s lifetime inside the body can be controlled by changing the encapsulating layer’s thickness.
The setup is meant to biodegrade, and the researchers ensured that the total amount of zinc and magnesium in it remains lower than the recommended daily intake values, so it is safe.