1. Solar panels implanted on the body could power internal medical devicesResearchers at Bern University Hospital have shown that there is potential in using implanted solar cells to power medical devices inside the body, according to a new study.
Subcutaneous, implantable pacemakers partnered with solar-powered sensors are designed to be the solution to the battery limitations that implanted devices have. Batteries usually have to be replaced once they’re depleted or have to be repeatedly recharged.
The researchers had 32 participants for their six-month study. Each participant was required to wear a measurement device on their arm that gathered the output power of solar cells. The devices were covered with a material that had similar optical properties to human skin and were worn throughout the day to determine how much power was being generated. Researchers also wanted to know if weather and human behavior would be a contributing factor to power generation.
Sunlight and artificial light successfully powered the panels a considerable amount, indoors and on cloudy days. However, the device is bulky; it can’t be implanted in the neck where it would receive the most light. The researchers hope to create and test a device that is smaller and consists of flexible sensors that are optimized for low-light conditions and biocompatible materials. They also suggest that the device would have to have a small, built-in battery to store backup power in the event that there is very little light sources.
Previous studies have shown success in powering sunlight-powered pacemakers under a pig model’s skin. Just a few minutes of sunlight were able to power the pacemaker for 24 hours.