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Ultrasound powers bioelectronics with battery-free implants

  • 2 Min To Read
  • 3 months ago

A recent study published in Advanced Materials has introduced a new implantable bioelectronic device that is powered by ultrasonic electricity instead of traditional batteries. Developed by Dr. Young-Jun Kim and his colleagues from Sungkyunkwan University in Korea, this device offers a potential solution to the challenges faced by bioelectronic devices, namely power source and comfort.

Most bioelectronic devices currently rely on batteries, which adds weight and fatigue for the user. Additionally, these devices are often intended for daily use and are semi-permanently attached to the user, making comfort a crucial factor. In the case of implants, a battery patch is typically connected to the device, which can become intrusive over time.

The researchers took a different approach by utilizing ultrasound technology for power transfer. The ultrasound probe has a negative charge, while the implant has a positive charge. When the ultrasonic probe approaches the implant, low-amperage electric transfers occur wirelessly through a process known as triboelectricity.

The implanted device, called a triboelectric nanogenerator, directly stimulates nerves using low-intensity electricity delivered by the compact ultrasound device. The study conducted experiments on live rats, specifically targeting an overactive bladder. The results showed that the device improved bladder capacity and reduced urinary regularity, without affecting healthy bladder function.

While the technology has not yet been tested on humans, it shows promising potential for various applications in regenerative medicine. The use of ultrasound waves allows for device miniaturization and reduces discomfort for patients. Moreover, eliminating the need for batteries creates a more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly device. The low intensity of the electrical current used in ultrasound technology also minimizes damage to the body and nerves.

However, one limitation of the current system is that the ultrasonic probe needs to be used every time to activate the implant, which limits its viability for everyday use. Nevertheless, the concept and blueprint of this technology are highly impressive, and it may pave the way for advancements in the field of regenerative medicine, including prosthetics, insulin delivery, and motor rehabilitation.

As this technology continues to evolve, it is likely that similar approaches will be applied to other areas of regenerative medicine in the future. The possibilities are exciting, and further research and development in this field are eagerly anticipated.

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