Millions of people who rely on pacemakers, defibrillators, and other livesaving implantable devices powered by batteries that need to be replaced every five to 10 years.

Rendering of the two designs of the cardiac energy harvesting device. (Credit: Patricio Sarzosa)


Using a dime-sized invention, the kinetic energy of the heart can be converted into electricity to power a wide range of implantable devices. The device solves the problem associated with implantable biomedical devices: how to create an effective energy source that lasts the lifetime of the patient without the need for surgery to replace a battery, and does not interfere with the body’s functions. The biocompatible, lightweight, flexible, low-profile device fits into the current pacemaker structure but is also scalable for future multi-functionality. It modifies pacemakers to harness the kinetic energy of the lead wire that’s attached to the heart, converting it into electricity to continually charge the batteries. The device combines thin-film energy conversion material with a minimally invasive mechanical design. The material is a thin polymer piezoelectric film called PVDF and when designed with porous structures — either an array of small buckle beams or a flexible cantilever — it can convert even small mechanical motion to electricity.


Dartmouth University, Thayer School of Engineering, Hanover, NH


Two years of NIH funding remain. There is expressed interest from major medical technology companies. Commercialization could occur within five years.


The millions of people who use livesaving implantable devices powered by batteries would not require surgery to replace the batteries. Such surgeries can be costly and create the possibility of complications and infections. In addition, the same modules could potentially be used as sensors to enable data collection for real-time monitoring of patients.