Wearable and implantable devices are currently used for a variety of functions, including health tracking and monitoring. However, supplying power usually requires bulky batteries and downtime due to overcharging. An international team of scientists suggests that advances in materials and electronic design may be capable of converting biomechanical energy into electrical energy, paving the way for devices that can be wearable and implanted, but that do not require recharging. The research results are published by the journal Biosensors and Bioelectronics.
Larry Cheng, professor in the Department of Engineering and Mechanics at the University of Pennsylvania, explains that his team aimed to create devices that can harvest energy and develop sensors that can operate autonomously. A kind of energy harvester can supply energy to power other devices, while self-powered sensors can provide their own energy to operate as stand-alone devices.
Such sensors could lead to more accurate healthcare and remote health monitoring capabilities.
The researchers said that tensile piezoelectric materials – solids capable of storing electrical charges – are critical to the development of such devices. Since human tissue is soft and constantly changing shape, materials must be able to bend and stretch.
According to the researchers, biosensors can not only be transferred to the surface of the skin, but one day they can be implanted into the body. Chang said advances in material design and development over the past decade have helped researchers develop piezoelectric materials that are flexible and tough enough to withstand the environment within the body, yet so sensitive and effective that they can capture and transform such rapid movements. such as heartbeat and breathing.