A self-powered cardiac pacemaker

June 26, 2014

Artist’s impression of a self-powered cardiac pacemaker is enabled by a flexible piezoelectric energy harvester (credit: KAIST)

A research team from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) has developed a self-powered artificial cardiac pacemaker operated semi-permanently by a flexible piezoelectric nanogenerator.

Currently, pacemaker batteries last seven years on average, requiring frequent replacements, which may pose patients to a potential risk involved in medical procedures.

The nanogenerator directly stimulated a living rat’s heart using electrical energy converted from the small body movements of the rat.

The research team fabricated high-performance flexible nanogenerators utilizing a bulk single-crystal “PMN-PT” thin film energy harvester.

The harvested energy reached up to 8.2 V and 0.22 mA by bending and pushing motions, which were high enough values to directly stimulate the rat’s heart.

A schematic illustration of the artificial cardiac pacemaking using electrical energy from the flexible PMN-PT energy harvester (credit: Geon-Tae Hwang et al./Advanced Materials)

“For clinical purposes, the current achievement will benefit the development of self-powered cardiac pacemakers as well as prevent heart attacks via the real-time diagnosis of heart arrhythmia,” said Professor Keon Jae Lee of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at KAIST. “The flexible piezoelectric nanogenerator could also be utilized as an electrical source for various other implantable medical devices.”

Self-powered cardiac pacemaker enabled by flexible piezoelectric energy harvester (credit: KAIST)

Abstract of Advanced Materials paper

A flexible single crystalline PMN-PT piezoelectric energy harvester is demonstrated to achieve a self-powered artificial cardiac pacemaker. The energy harvesting device generates a short-circuit current of 0.223 mA and an open-circuit voltage of 8.2 V, which are enough to meet the standard for not only charging commercial batteries but also stimulating heart without an external power source.