The implantable device could make surgery to replace batteries unnecessary.

Read the full story by Catharine Mayor Lamm, published by Thayer School of Engineering.

More than 1 million pacemakers implanted each year worldwide currently require an additional surgical procedure every five to 10 years to replace the batteries. Dartmouth engineering researchers, along with clinicians at University of Texas in San Antonio, have published promising results of a new way to power these and other implantable medical devices.

Funded by a five-year National Institute of Health Director’s Transformative Research Award and featured on the cover of this month’s Advanced Materials Technologies, the study investigates using a combination of thin-film energy conversion materials with a minimally invasive mechanical design to enable self-charging batteries for a potentially wide-range of implantable devices including pacemakers and defibrillators.

“We’re trying to solve the ultimate problem for any implantable biomedical device,” says Dartmouth engineering professor John X.J. Zhang, a lead researcher on the study. “How do you create an effective energy source so the device will do its job during the entire life span of the patient, without the need for surgery to replace the battery?”