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Powering pacemakers with heartbeat vibrations

Date:
February 1, 2012
Source:
American Institute of Physics
Summary:
Aerospace engineers 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.

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.

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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.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Institute of Physics. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


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

Cite This Page:

American Institute of Physics. "Powering pacemakers with heartbeat vibrations." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 February 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120201181449.htm>.
American Institute of Physics. (2012, February 1). Powering pacemakers with heartbeat vibrations. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 1, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120201181449.htm
American Institute of Physics. "Powering pacemakers with heartbeat vibrations." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120201181449.htm (accessed April 1, 2015).

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