Researchers Develop a Way to Beam Power to Minuscule Implants in Your Body

A Stanford electrical engineer has developed implants the size of rice grains that can wirelessly receive transmitted power.
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A Stanford electrical engineer has developed implants the size of rice grains that can wirelessly receive transmitted power.
mid field power transfer

Photo Credit: Extreme Tech

Stanford electrical engineer Ada Poon has found a way to transmit power to super tiny implants in the human body. This discovery can lead to the development of smaller pacemakers and body-wide sensor networks. 

The component of Poon's discovery that makes it such a breakthrough is a new way of transmitting power to implants wirelessly, called Mid-Field. Currently being used is Near-Frield and Far-Field. Near-Field can only transmit power over short distances. On the other hand, Far-Field is able to transmit power over long distances, but the the power is scattered and gets absorbed by the skin. 

There is currently no safe method of wirelessly transmitting power to implants in human bodies. Implants usually have a large battery, which is too big to be implanted deep in the body. This means that implants have to sit just under the skin and use electrodes to reach organs, or they don't need to be further in the body and use Near-Field transmission. 

For the Mid-Field method, Poon has designed a patterned antenna which generates special near-field waves. These waves turn into mid-field waves when they reach the skin, and can then penetrate several centimeters into flesh. 

This technology will allow for implants, like pacemakers, to be embedded directly into organs. Poon has undergone testing on pigs and rabbits, and is planning human testing next. According to Stanford, independent testing found that the radiation produced by the Mid-Field method is well within the safety zone for human exposure. 

Learn more about Poon's discovery in the video below.