An important aspect of the future of intelligent health care delivery lies with the promise of biomedical implants with extended wireless connectivity. These implants will provide therapy through both electrical stimulation and drug delivery and also serve as a gateway to enable personalized medicine. Batteries supply these implants with energy, but batteries are inherently limiting due to a fixed operating lifetime based on their fixed energy density and the strict constraints imposed by implantable devices.
Rajeevan Amirtharajah, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at UC Davis, leads a multi-campus group developing a miniaturize, rechargeable power supply that harvests energy from the movement and body temperature of the patient, stores the energy in printed batteries and capacitors, and regulates this energy into a stable voltage for running a number of diverse electronic subsystems. This research effort brings together mechanical engineers, electrical engineers, and clinicians to synthesize an integrated, reliable and biocompatible power supply solution that can both extend the lifetime and functionality of current implants and also enable a new generation of biomedical devices.
Over the next six months, the researchers will evaluate vibration harvesting at the meso and micro scale in relation to the needs of various implantable technologies; analyze circuit power requirements for biomedical applications including signal detection, computation, electrical tissue stimulation, and wireless communication; and create preliminary power supply conditioning circuits that maximize energy transfer efficiency from harvesters to storage and storage to load. Then, they will model, design, and prototype a thermal energy harvester for implantable medical devices.