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Pacemaker

Researchers develop implantable device which produces energy with the help of ultrasound

Scientists affiliated with different institutions in the Republic of Korea have created a type of implantable device which produces energy with the help of an external ultrasound source. It was then tested on animal tissue and scientists reported it in a paper which has been published in the Science journal.

Although pacemaker has saved many lives, it has several risks for the patient who have them implanted into the chests. They have to be replaced at periodic intervals of time which creates an additional risk of infection in the patients along with a degree of pain and irritation in the bodies. There might be bruising, bleeding or swelling at the generator site, which is more if the patient has been taking blood thinners.

Pacemaker-mediated tachycardia (PMT) is also another form of complication of artificial pacemakers. Because of these reasons, researchers have searched for techniques to produce power inside the body which will make the batteries unnecessary. As a new result, scientists have designed a generator which develops power when it is exposed to an ultrasound source.

The generator is a kind of triboelectric generator. These type of generators harvest energy from the triboelectric effect. In this effect, contact electrification occurs when two dissimilar materials touch and are then pulled away. An example of this effect is static electricity. The team used the generator which had two squares of material inside that were forced together in exposure to ultrasound. After the removal of the ultrasound signal, the objects got separated and a small electricity amount was generated which was captured in the generator. Along with this, the team added several other components to the device which allows interfacing with other devices. Scientists also had to make sure that it could withstand when implanted inside a living being.

For testing the generator, the team of researchers implanted it into pig tissue at different depths and then emitted ultrasound through the skin. They reported that at a depth of five millimeters, electricity was produced by the generator with a value of current up to 156 microamperes and a voltage of 2.4 volts. And at depths of one centimeter, the generator managed to develop 98 microamperes and 1.9 volts. Researchers identify the prospect that if they manage to run the different kinds of pacemakers and implantable devices with the generator then it would save the patients of the pain to replace it at periodic time intervals with the help of surgery.

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