Researchers say innovative chips could power nanosized devices

1 min read

Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have discovered a method that could lead to medical devices that are powered by a patient's heartbeat.

Zhong Lin Wang, pictured, and his team at GeorgiaTech deposited zinc oxide nanowires on a flexible polymer substrate, after which the device was put into a polymer casing to protect it from body fluids interacting with it. Then the device, measuring 2 x 5mm, was attached to the diaphragm of a laboratory rat. The stretching of the rat's diaphragm during breathing stretched the nanowires, and the device generated around 4picoamperes of current at 2millivolts. The device was then attached to a rat's heart where it generated 30picoamperes at 3millivolts. Although the current produced is small, the researchers believe that if the new ultra low power chips are used, the technology has the potential to power nano-sized devices such as early warning systems of hypoglycaemia, blood pressure monitors and glucose sensors using power from the human heart. Their goal is to improve the power output in order to power these medical devices.