Energy harvesting solutions use energy from the environment to operate a system. Generic Image: : Rohan Makhecha via Unsplash

Energy self-sufficient devices offer the potential to drive medtech innovations

01 February 2024 09:34

Zurich CCGreater ZurichSEC

Zurich - Helbling is supporting innovations in the medtech space with energy harvesting technology, whereby energy is captured from a system environment to create devices that are energy self-sufficient. This can, for example, make active implants a possibility. Helbling pursues a systems engineering approach for the implementation of such solutions.

In the future, energy harvesting technology could potentially make batteries a thing of the past when it comes to powering medtech devices and enable even smaller implants. This technology is covered in some detail as part of a specialist article published by the Zurich-based engineering and consulting company Helbling, which is supporting companies in their efforts to develop such devices and has already implemented numerous projects in this area. At present, there are several promising technologies in the starting blocks, as the Helbling experts write, especially for medical devices. With this principle, energy is captured from a system environment and converted into usable electricity to power the selfsame system. In general, energy harvesting is relevant, for example, for continuous glucose monitoring systems and implantable cardiac stimulators. These solutions could therefore help to further reduce the need for surgery, associated medical risks and costs for the healthcare system.

The specialist article focuses in particular on the development process. At Helbling, multidisciplinary teams pursue a systems engineering approach that requires holistic analysis. The initial focus is on the functions and energy budget of the system. Then, as part of application scenarios, energy sources in the environment such as light, heat and movements can be identified and tested under real conditions. In terms of potential technological solutions, the next step is to investigate the transducers that can facilitate converting the energy source into electricity: Photovoltaic cells, for example, draw their energy from light, while electrodes use biochemicals for the same purpose.

According to the specialist article, harvester circuits are essential for this. They ensure a reliable power supply. The focus here is on architectures and circuits that have become more widespread with the advent of the Internet of Things (IoT), Helbling writes.

The authors of the specialist article state that energy harvesting solutions harbor huge potential. As such, research activities in this area are in full swing. When implementing such solutions, Helbling relies heavily on its network of partners in order to drive the technology transfer for medtech innovations. ce/yvh

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