9 battery and power source advances you need to know



[Image from James Almond on Flickr]

In the drive toward tinier implantable medical devices and wearable health sensors, battery and power source technology has been a major stumbling block.

As experts noted in a discussion about battery technology during DeviceTalks Minnesota in June, battery innovation in the field is especially slow. Going too fast has its risks, too. Case in point is the literally explosive history of rechargeable lithium ion batteries.

“Things take a while, much longer than you anticipate. If you try to move out too quickly, you could hurt yourself,” said Tom O’Hara, global business manager at Intertek.

Battelle research leader Steven Risser said: “Ten years from now, we could be sitting up here having this same discussion. The battery we’re talking about is going to be lithium ion. But it may have one and a half the energy density of today, maybe twice.”

The challenges of improving battery technology, however, haven’t stopped some researchers from trying to push the envelope or find workarounds, and there is heartening news when it comes to power sources, too.

From implanted solar panels to tiny temperature sensors, here are nine batteries and power source advancements that could change how implantable electronic devices are made.

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Managing editor Chris Newmarker contributed to this story.

[Find out more about medical device technology at DeviceTalks Boston on Oct. 2.]

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