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Batteries Are Charging Forward to Support Medtech Miniaturization, Connectivity

One of Ilika's batteries on a PCB (the battery is the silver rectangle). Image courtesy Ilika.
Smaller, more powerful batteries are needed for implantables and for connectivity, shares a BIOMEDevice Boston speaker.

Alternative energy sources, delivery, and storage solutions are needed to help bring about further advances in medical device miniaturization and connectivity.

Two trends in particular are driving change in medtech—demand for smaller implantables as well as for connectivity, said Gary Johnson, director of medical battery solutions, Ilika. These trends are driving the need for smaller, more powerful battery solutions, he told MD+DI. “Traditional batteries are too large for next-generation implantables that will target specific nerves, for stimulation.”

Denis Pasero, product commercialization manager for Ilika, agrees, adding that even next generations of existing devices are following this trend toward miniaturization and connectivity. “If patients can self-help and self-monitor, they might not need to go to the doctor to understand the data,” he said. For instance, “there’s a shift toward making life simpler for diabetes patients.” Other examples of smaller, potentially connected devices would be subcutaneous cardiac rhythm monitors, leadless pacemakers, and sensors that could connect with a wireless body area network.

Johnson discussed these trends and explored the roles that could be played by new power solutions in the BIOMEDevice Boston session, “Solutions for Powering Medical Sensors Autonomously,” on Wednesday, April 18. He reviewed alternatives for powering these devices wirelessly, such as through induction or through early-stage energy-harvesting solutions from body movement as well as heat-differential harvesters.

Johnson compared conventional batteries with solid-state batteries. “With totally solid batteries, there’s the absence of the toxic part of a conventional battery—the electrolyte liquid,” said Pasero. In addition, while previous-generation batteries have been packaged in metal cans, Ilika is packaging its solid-state batteries in “thin-film medical-grade materials that have passed cytotoxicity testing,” he added. “They are light in size and dimension.”

Delivering the needed power from a smaller footprint is also a possibility. “Solid-state batteries at the miniature level are very rare,” said Pasero. Ilika has devised solutions. “We have the ability to put a battery in something as small as 2 to 3 millimeters, which allows them to be implanted,” explained Johnson.

Through collaborations with medical device companies, Ilika is also working on “stacking,” or “packing a lot of energy in a small volume,” Pasero said. “Think of a lot of batteries layered on top of each other.”

The upcoming Medtech Education Hub at MD&M East will include the following presentation: "How to Get the Best Battery Solution for Your Products" on Thursday, June 14, at 11:00 AM - 11:45 AM, featuring speaker Michael Xie, PhD, CEO & Founder of PHD Energy Inc. The session is open to all show attendees.

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