Pacemakers to be powered by heartbeats?

2 February 2012

The vibrations caused by each heartbeat could soon be used to generate power so that pacemakers can function for longer, those seeking a heart scan to fit such devices may want to note.

A team of aerospace engineers at the University of Michigan has been successful in creating a prototype gadget which displays this idea in action.

Current pacemakers only need around one millionth of a Watt to function, but their battery life means that they need replacing periodically.

As a result of this problem, patients with a pacemaker are required to undergo several operations during their lifetime in order to continually replace a worn-out device.

However, a paper from the University of Michigan researchers, which has been published in Applied Physical Letters, detailed that vibrations from a heartbeat could feed up to eight times the energy that a pacemaker requires.

An artificial pacemaker is commonly fitted to patients if they have suffered from a particular form of heart block, have a heart which beats too fast or have had problems with heart failure.

Posted by Philip Briggs

Karami, Inman. "Powering Pacemakers from Heartbeat Vibrations Using Linear and Nonlinear Energy Harvesters". Applied Physics Letters. February 1st 2012.

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