The notion of placing solar cells beneath skin recharging implants constantly has been a dream for researchers and scientists forever. A team of Swiss researchers recently made this possible who did all the calculations and found that around 3.6 square centimeter solar cells are capable enough to produce power during summers as well as winters for a regular pacemaker. It is one of the first of its kind study that offers some substantial data regarding potential of solar cells that can power important devices like deep brain stimulators or pacemakers.
The lead author Lukas Bereuter from Bern University Hospital states that when a patient wears a solar cell beneath skin for implants they wouldn’t need to bear the discomfort of having constant painful procedures for changing batteries again and again. There are a number of other research groups that have come up with prototypes of several small sized electronic solar cells that need to be carried under skin and also have an application in medical devices. These solar cells are able to convert light received from sun into energy as it penetrates the skin cells. To delve deeply into this concept of rechargeable energy producers, Bereuter along with his colleagues came up with a solar measurement equipment that can easily scale the output power that is being generated.
The equipment found that human life saving implants only needed 3.6 square centimeters large cells. To examine, they covered all ten devices with optical filters that can stimulate properties of skin that can influence the efficiency with which sun penetrates skin. These devices were then worn by around 32 volunteers for seven days in summers, autumn, and winters in Switzerland. They found that these cells were able to produce required power for implants irrespective of season. Even the patient who received lowest power of 12 microwatts was able to pull through all seasons.
In Bereuter’s words. “The overall mean power obtained is enough to completely power for example a pacemaker or at least extend the lifespan of any other active implant. By using energy-harvesting devices such as solar cells to power an implant, device replacements may be avoided and the device size may be reduced dramatically.”
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