Experts design alternative for rigid batteries which power implants

Washington D.C.: A flexible and organic alternative to provide a solution for rigid batteries that power up medical implants has been designed by experts at Queen’s University Belfast.

Devices like defibrillators and pacemakers are fitted with rigid and metal based batteries, which may cause discomfort.

A pliable supercapacitor, which could power body sensors, has been developed by Dr Geetha Srinivasan and a team of scientists from Queen’s University Ionic Liquid Laboratories (QUILL) Research Centre.

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This flexible gadget is made up of non-flammable electrolytes and organic composites, which are safe for the human body.

The invention can also be easily decomposed.

The research published in Energy Technology and Green Chemistry revealed that the device could be manufactured using readily available natural feedstock, rather than sophisticated and expensive metals or semiconductors.

Dr Srinivasan said, “In modern society, we all increasingly depend on portable electronics such as smartphones and laptops in our everyday lives and this trend has spread to other important areas such as healthcare devices.”

“In medical devices such as pacemakers and defibrillators, there are two implants, one which is fitted in the heart and another which holds the metal base, rigid batteries – this is implanted under the skin. The implant under the skin is wired to the device and can cause patients discomfort as it rubs against the skin. For this reason, batteries need to be compatible with the human body and ideally we would like them to be flexible so that they can adapt to body shapes,” she added.

Dr Srinivasan further added, “At Queen’s University Belfast we have designed a flexible energy storage device, which consists of conducting polymer – biopolymer composites as durable electrodes and ionic liquids as safer electrolytes.”

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However, the study said that there are a number of advantages in the medical world, the organic storage device could also provide solutions in wearable electronics and portable electronic devices, making these more flexible.

“Although this research could be a potential solution to a global problem, the actual supercapacitor assembly is a straightforward process,” said Marta Lorenzo, PhD researcher at Queen’s University Belfast.

Dr Srinivasan also noted, “There is also opportunity to fabricate task-specific supercapacitors. This means that their properties can be tuned and also manufactured using environmentally friendly methods, which is important if they are to be produced on a large scale, for example in powering portable personal electronic devices.”

 

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