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  • Voltaire Staff

Chinese researchers introduce mechanism to power bioimplants


Image Courtesy: Unsplash


Chinese scientists have introduced a wireless energy receiving and storage device that's not only biodegradable but also proficient in powering bioelectronic implants.


Bioimplants encompass fully biodegradable drug delivery systems, which are minimally invasive yet highly reliable means to precisely monitor and treat patients.


According to an article in South China Morning Post, researchers from Lanzhou University have proposed a wireless implantable power system, claiming to have both high energy storage performance and favourable tissue interfacing properties.


They also claimed that their system's soft and flexible design facilitates adaptation to the shape of tissue and organs, signifying a leap forward in implantable technology.


The core of the wireless power supply device comprises a magnesium coil that serves to charge the device when an external transmitting coil is placed atop the skin above the implant. The power received by the magnesium coil passes through a circuit before entering into an energy storage module comprising zinc-ion hybrid supercapacitors.


The researchers' endeavour was informed by the limitations of biodegradable power supply units in powering these implants and their inadequate power generation.


In addition, conventional power supply units connected to transdermal --under the skin -- chargers tend to cause inflammation, while those relying on non-rechargeable batteries might necessitate surgical replacement, leading to potential complications, they said.


Unlike batteries that store energy as chemical energy, supercapacitors store power as electrical energy. Despite storing less energy per unit, they boast of high power density, ensuring consistent discharge of a significant amount of energy, read the study published in journal Science Advances.


The system comes encapsulated in a flexible biodegradable chip-like implant that allows the power to directly pass through the circuit into an attached bioelectronic device or into the supercapacitor for constant, reliable power output once the charging is complete.


Researchers said zinc and magnesium components in their charging device are well within daily intake levels for humans, rendering the dissolvable implants biocompatible. Encased in polymer and wax, the entire device exhibits remarkable flexibility, adapting to the tissue structure where it's placed.


Preliminary tests conducted on rats revealed the device's effectiveness for up to 10 days, dissolving entirely within two months. Manipulating the thickness and chemistry of the encapsulation layer can alter the device's functional duration, according to researchers.


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