Can Solar Cells Power Medical Implants?

Can Solar Cells Power Medical Implants?

Using power-generating solar cells in medical implants will avoid the need for continuous procedures to charge batteries of life-saving devices.   

FREMONT, CA: From the first pacemaker implant, the medical field is coming up with numerous engineering and medical activities to develop implantable devices. With explosive advances in technology, many implantable medical devices have been developed and improved. This trend of progress in medical implants is continuing at a rapid rate, and medical implant developers are looking for innovative technologies to scale efficiency. Solar power technology is found to be a perfect solution as it works effectively with medical implants. Solar power technology enables implants to be self-charging, avoiding the risk of breakdown or the need for risky replacements.

Most electronic implants are battery-powered, and the battery volume required for an extended life span governs their size. When the power in batteries runs out, these implants must be recharged or changed. This means that patients have to undergo replacement surgeries, which is both costly and stressful. Research groups are putting forward solar power as an alternative as it can recharge implants. The solar cell prototypes used here convert the light from the sun that penetrates the skin surface into energy. This energy obtained is sufficient to completely power implants or at least extend the lifespan of active implants. By using energy harvesting devices such as solar cells to charge an implant, replacements may be avoided, and the implant size may be reduced dramatically.

Research in this technology had shown that a 3.6 square centimeter solar cell could provide more than enough power each day for a heart pacemaker, even if it is implanted under the skin. These solar cells also use energy accumulators that store surplus power for use and night and during low-sunlight days. These accumulators are smaller and lighter than batteries since power can be quickly replenished once the solar cells are exposed to sunlight.

According to New Atlas, the advancement of solar-powered medical implants means that it could be implemented in patients, saving them from the trouble of undergoing surgeries every time the battery of their devices wears off.

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