Bob Michaels

April 2, 2012

2 Min Read
Fraunhofer Researchers Develop Cordless Power Technology for Medical Devices

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies and Systems IKTS (Hermsdorf, Germany) have succeeded in wirelessly transmitting power from a portable transmitter module to a mobile generator module. Using this portable device, the researchers can supply power to implants, medication dosing systems, and other medical applications remotely without touching them--such as ingestible endoscopic capsules that migrate through the gastrointestinal tract and transmit images of the body's interior.

Because electronic medical devices rely on probes, actuators, signal processing units, and electronic controls, they require a power supply. However, batteries are often ruled out because of their limited durability. Thus, radio-wave-based and inductive systems are most commonly used to power many electronic implantable devices. The problem with such systems is that they perform differently depending on a range of factors, including their location, position, and the movement of the body. In addition, they often have limited range. To address this deficiency, the Fraunhofer scientists have developed a power transfer system that wirelessly transmits power from a portable transmitter module to a mobile generator module--the receiver.

The cylindrical-shaped transfer module is so small and compact that it can be attached to a belt, states Holger Lausch, a scientist at IKTS. The transmitter provides an electric current of more than 100 mW and has a range of about 50 cm. As a result, the receiver can be placed almost anywhere in the body. The generator module can be traced any time--regardless of power transfer. Thus, if the generator is located inside a video endoscopy capsule, the images produced can be assigned to specific intestinal regions. If it is placed inside a dosing capsule, the active ingredient in the medication can be released in a targeted manner.

In the transfer module, a rotating magnet driven by an EC motor generates a magnetic rotary field. A magnetic pellet in the receiver connects to the alternating exterior magnetic field, enabling it to be set in rotation and generating electricity. "With magnetic coupling, power can be transported through all nonmagnetic materials, such as biological tissue, bones, organs, water, plastic or even a variety of metals. Moreover, the magnetic field produced has no harmful side effects on humans. It doesn't even heat up tissue," Lausch comments.

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