Researchers have introduced a new nanogenerator capable of collecting energy from biological contractile movements, such as a beating heart, for use in powering medical implants like pacemakers. From Nanotechweb:
Implanted biomedical devices, such as heart-rate monitors, pacemakers, defibrillators and neural stimulators, rely on some form of battery power to work. And although these batteries have become smaller and much more efficient in recent years, they still only last a few years and need to be regularly replaced – something that requires the patient to undergo surgery. Not exactly an ideal situation.
The best solution to this problem would be to do away with batteries altogether. A team led by John Rogers has now gone some way in addressing this issue with its new device based on lead zirconate titanate (PZT) nanoribbons. PZT has a high piezoelectric voltage and dielectric constant – ideal properties for converting mechanical energy into electrical energy. The material is also highly bendable and mechanically strong.
The device works by harnessing the natural contractile and relaxation motions of the heart, lung and diaphragm, and converting these into electricity. And the good news is that the generator produces more than enough electricity to power implants such as pacemakers, for example. As well as being deployed inside the body, the same technology might even be used to make wearable health monitors if placed directly on the skin, says Rogers.