University of Michigan scientists have created a new type of pacemaker that doesn’t require batteries. The new device uses vibrations from heartbeats themselves to power the cardiac devices.
Engineering researchers who designed the new pacemaker predicted it will become standard and replace conventional pacemakers that rely on battery power.
Reporting their development in the journal Applied Physics Letters, the scientists said the new device harvests energy from the reverberation of heartbeats through the chest and converts it to electricity to run a pacemaker or an implanted defibrillator.
Pacemakers are mini-medical machines that send electrical signals to the heart to keep it beating in a healthy rhythm. Most patients require repeated surgeries to replace pacemaker batteries, which last five to 10 years. But the new devices would never need to be replaced, saving patients the need for repeated surgery.
"The idea is to use ambient vibrations that are typically wasted and convert them to electrical energy," said Amin Karami, a research fellow in the university’s Department of Aerospace Engineering. "If you put your hand on top of your heart, you can feel these vibrations all over your torso."
The new device could generate 10 microwatts of power, which is about eight times the amount a pacemaker needs to operate, Karami said. Resarchers originally designed the device to generate power from for light unmanned airplanes, using wing vibrations.