Could your heart power its own pacemaker?

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign unveiled this flexible silicon device in 2010, and are now working on powering such a device from nearby organs.

(Credit: Dae-Hyeong Kim/University of Illinois)

Scientists have been working for years on finding a way to harvest ambient energy continuously to power biomedical implants. The aim is to keep these vital implants running with the need for batteries, multiple invasive surgeries, and the like. From solar power to friction, to the energy produced when glucose breaks down or body temperature shifts, every rock is being turned over, looked under, and presumably considered for its potential as an energy source, too.

Perhaps the holy grail of biomedical energy harvesting is using nearby organs; the energy generated by our own hearts and lungs is so, well, reliable. Our organs are our own little energizing bunnies, and they don’t stop when it’s dark, or we’re not moving. Plus they have the distinct advantage of being in extreme proximity to the devices they would be powering — pacemakers, defibrillators, and the like.

Now, bioengineers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign say they are … [Read more]

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