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How Implants Powered By Ultrasound Can Help Monitor Health

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Artist's conception of wireless implants that can monitor organs such as the heart, kidney, and ear drum.

A team of researchers at Stanford University have developed small implants that can be powered wirelessly via ultrasound.

Credit: Stefani Billings

Researchers at Stanford University have unveiled small implants designed for disease diagnosis and treatment by using ultrasound to safely beam both energy and instructions.

In this concept lies the potential to enable whole wireless networks of implants that can communicate with each other and coordinate functions in a closed-loop system, and the team has applied this approach to design implantable sensors and stimulators.

Stanford's Amin Arbabian and colleagues have built electronic components in a modular design to create a rice grain-sized implantable platform that can let engineers swap essential modules based on the desirable functions.

"Think of our implant platform as the chassis of a car that we can customize for different applications," notes Stanford's Marcus Weber.

Within each implant is a power-receiving module that converts energy from ultrasound waves into usable electricity, while nanocapacitors store power between charges.

The team is designing a skin patch that will serve as a control nexus and central power source.

From Stanford School of Engineering
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