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Researchers Create Wireless Implantable Devices [VIDEO]

Update Date: May 21, 2014 02:47 PM EDT
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An electrical engineering assistant professor, Ada Poon, has changed the future of medical implantable devices. Poon and her team from Stanford University have created a new way to wirelessly charge devices that need to be implanted inside the body. These types of devices are currently implanted with bulky batteries and charging systems.

"We need to make these devices as small as possible to more easily implant them deep in the body," said co-author Dr. Poon, according to BBC News.

Dr. Poon and her team developed a small grain sized pacemaker that can be wirelessly charged. The gadget comes with a charging system, which is about the size of a credit card. The system, which looks like a metal plate, uses around the same amount of power as a cell phone. So far, the expousre levels appear to be safe.

To test the effectiveness of the device and the metal plate, the researchers implanted the pacemaker a few centimeters above the chest of a rabbit. The pacemaker helped regulate the rabbit's heartbeat. By using the metal plate, the researchers were able to charge the pacemaker successfully without any wires.

The team created the metal plate by combining two types of electromagnetic waves, which are far-field waves and near-field waves. Far-field waves can travel longer distances and are typically used for broadcasting from radio towers. The body can absorb these waves as heat. Near-field waves are a safer alternative and transfer power over a shorter distance.

"With this method, we can safely transmit power to tiny implants in organs like the heart or brain, well beyond the range of current near-field systems," said John Ho, a graduate student in Dr. Poon's lab.

The study, "Wireless power transfer to deep-tissue microimplants," was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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