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In order to recharge life-saving devices such as pacemakers, researchers have figured out a new way of harvesting energy from the heart itself, more like a self-charging pacemaker.

Engineers from Dartmouth College have developed a dime-sized device through which kinetic energy of the heart can be converted into electricity for powering a wide-range of implantable devices.

Life-saving devices such as pacemakers, defibrillators and other implantable devices are usually powered by batteries that need to be replaced every five to 10 years. The replacements require surgery which can be expensive and can also possibly create complications and infections, as per Science Daily.

“We’re trying to solve the ultimate problem for any implantable biomedical device," said lead researcher John X.J. Zhang. “How do you create an effective energy source so the device will do its job during the entire life span of the patient, without the need for surgery to replace the battery?”

The team proposes modifying pacemakers to harness the kinetic energy of the lead wire that is attached to the heart, hence converting it into electricity to continually charge the batteries. The added material is a kind of thin polymer piezoelectric film called ‘PVDF’.

When designed with porous structures like an array of small buckle beams or a flexible cantilever, the device can convert even small mechanical motion to energy. Also, the same modules can potentially be used as sensors to allow data collection for real-time monitoring of patients.

“Of equal importance is that the device does not interfere with the body’s function,” said first author Lin Dong of the study published in Advanced Materials Technology. “We knew it had to be biocompatible, lightweight, flexible, and low profile, so it not only fits into the current pacemaker structure but is also scalable for future multi-functionality.”

Zhang and his team believes that the self-charging pacemaker is a long way to be available for consumer use and can be put to market in five years.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2019