Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Shine a Light Instead of Changing the Battery

Light-driven implantable converter for bioelectronics devices

Pacemakers and other implanted medical devices require electric current to operate. Changing the battery requires an additional operation, which is an added stress on the patient. A Japanese team led by Eijiro Miyako at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology has now introduced an alternative approach in the journal Angewandte Chemie: an implantable converter that can simply be irradiated with laser light through the skin.

Bioelectronic devices help many patients to live longer and to experience a better quality of life. Pacemakers are not the only electronic implants used today; there are also “pain pacemakers” that alleviate severe chronic pain. These are neurostimulators that send electrical impulses directly to the spinal cord to block the signal pathway that transmits pain to the brain. Another example is the implantable drug pump, which can direct painkillers near the spinal cord or provide insulin for diabetics.

Such electronic implants are usually powered by lithium batteries that last at most ten years. The battery must then be changed in another operation. A rechargeable version is thus desirable. Various alternatives are currently available, such as electric cells that are driven by glucose within the body, or muscle-driven dynamos. The disadvantage is that the production of current cannot be controlled. Other approaches operate through electromagnetic current generation, but this can disrupt electronic devices in the vicinity.

The Japanese team has now developed an interesting alternative, a device that delivers current upon irradiation with a laser. At the heart of the system are very finely divided carbon nanotubes embedded in a silicon matrix. These absorb laser light and convert the light energy very effectively to heat. This heat energy is in turn converted into electric current by the tiny device. This works through the Seebeck effect: in an electrical circuit made of two different conductors—in this case a special arrangement of semiconductor materials—a temperature difference between the contacts results in a small voltage.

Only the side of the device coated with the silicon/carbon nanotube composite that gets irradiated heats up, which provides the required temperature difference. Because the carbon nanotubes absorb very well in a range of wavelengths that can pass through tissue, the device, which need be no larger than a half-centimeter cube, can be implanted under the skin. Simple irradiation should then allow it to generate enough voltage to charge the battery of a pacemaker or other device.

The researchers are now working on making the energy conversion of the device even more efficient and to increase its safety for medical applications.

About the Author
Dr Eijiro Miyako is a researcher of the Health Research Institute (HRI) at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), Japan. His main specialty is nanocarbon technology, and his research focuses on the development of highly functional nanocarbons for biotechnology and medical science.
Author: Eijiro Miyako, National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), Ikeda (Japan),
Title: A Photo-Thermal-Electrical Converter Based On Carbon Nanotubes for Bioelectronic Applications

Angewandte Chemie International Edition, Permalink to the article:

| Angewandte Chemie
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Novel mechanisms of action discovered for the skin cancer medication Imiquimod
21.10.2016 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Second research flight into zero gravity
21.10.2016 | Universität Zürich

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>