Heart’s energy to power life-saving implants

Washington: Scientists have develop a dime-sized device to capture and convert the kinetic energy of the heart into electricity to power a wide-range of life-saving implantable devices such as pacemakers. The heart’s motion is so powerful that it can recharge devices that save our lives, said researchers from the Dartmouth College in the US.

Millions of people rely on pacemakers, defibrillators and other live-saving implantable devices powered by batteries that need to be replaced every five to 10 years, they said. Those replacements require surgery which can be costly and create the possibility of complications and infections, according to the study. “We are trying to solve the ultimate problem for any implantable biomedical device,” said John X J Zhang from the University of Texas in the US.

“Of equal importance is that the device not interfere with the body’s function,” said Lin Dong, a research associate at Dartmouth. “We knew it had to be biocompatible, lightweight, flexible, and low profile, so it not only fits into the current pacemaker structure but is also scalable for future multi-functionality,” Dong said.

The team proposes modifying pacemakers to harness the kinetic energy of the lead wire that is attached to the heart, converting it into electricity to continually charge the batteries. The added material is a type of thin polymer piezoelectric film called ‘PVDF’.

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