Medical researchers at Stanford have managed to develop a tiny chip that could be planted deep inside our bodies to monitor biological processes and deliver pinpoint therapies to treat illness or relieve pain.
The engineers have made a major breakthrough in the way of sending power safely and without any wires. The novel approach involves beaming ultrasound at a tiny device inside the body that will: 1) convert the incoming sound waves into electricity; 2) process and execute medical commands; and 3) report the completed activity via a tiny built-in radio antenna.
“We think this will enable researchers to develop a new generation of tiny implants designed for a wide array of medical applications,” said Amin Arbabian, an assistant professor of electrical engineering at Stanford.
The engineers have made a major breakthrough in the way of sending power safely and without any wires.Arbabian’s team recently presented a working prototype of this wireless medical implant system at the IEEE Custom Integrated Circuits Conference in San Jose, California. Said prototype is the size of the head of a ballpoint pen, but the next-generation device will be one-tenth that size.
To achieve this and to develop sound-powered implants for a variety of medical applications, the team is collaborating with other researchers, including two additional Stanford colleagues who are experts in ultrasonics: Butrus (Pierre) Khuri-Yakub, a research professor of electrical engineering; and Amin Nikoozadeh, a research associate with the E.L. Ginzton Laboratory.
“Many biosensing and stimulation applications require small, deep medical implants,” Arbabian said. “We believe our platform provides the recipe for building small devices that can be powered wirelessly and programmed to perform a wide array of tasks.”