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Fri12062019

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Powering pacemakers with heartbeat vibrations

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(Feb. 1, 2012) — Though pacemakers require only small amounts of energy (about 1 millionth of a Watt), their batteries have to be replaced periodically, which means multiple surgeries for patients. Researchers have searched for ways to prolong battery life -- trying to generate energy to power a pacemaker using blood sugar, or the motion of the hands and legs -- but these methods either interfere with metabolism or require a more drastic surgery, such as passing a wire from the limbs to the chest area.

Aerospace engineers M. Amin Karami and Daniel J. Inman, from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, have developed a prototype device that could power a pacemaker using a source that is surprisingly close to the heart of the matter: vibrations in the chest cavity that are due mainly to heartbeats.

The authors describe the technique and their progress developing it in a paper recently published in the AIP's Applied Physics Letters.

In their method, vibrations in the chest cavity deform a layer of piezoelectric material, which is able to convert mechanical stress into electrical current. Tests indicate that the device could perform at heart rates from 7 to 700 beats per minute (well below and above the normal range), and that it could deliver eight times the energy required for a pacemaker. Furthermore, the authors write, the amount of energy generated is always larger than the amount required to run a pacemaker, regardless of heart rate.

Though the team has yet to develop a prototype that is biocompatible, they say that the potential to package this energy harvester with pacemakers gives it an advantage over competing methods.


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The above story is reprinted from materials provided by American Institute of Physics.

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Journal Reference:

  1. M. Amin Karami, Daniel J. Inman. Powering pacemakers from heartbeat vibrations using linear and nonlinear energy harvesters. Applied Physics Letters, 2012; 100 (4): 042901 DOI: 10.1063/1.3679102

Note: If no author is given, the source is cited instead.

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of or its staff.