Stanford engineer invents new way to wirelessly power implanted medical devices


Stanford electrical engineer Ada Poon has invented a system that can wirelessly power tiny medical devices located inside the body using mid-field electromagnetic waves.

Traditional medical devices like pacemakers and nerve stimulators often contain large batteries that make them bulky in size, and periodically requiring battery replacement through surgery.

Assistant professor Poon’s invention involves wrapping a grain-sized medical device with a copper coil, which is then wirelessly charged by placing a power source the size of a credit card near the body. When activated, the power source creates mid-field electromagnetic waves that travel through the body charging the coil-wrapped medical device.

Image credit: Schecter Films

Image credit: Schecter Films

In terms of safety, “an independent laboratory that tests cell phones found that [Poon’s] system fell well below the danger exposure levels for human safety.

Finally, this invention stands to mark the beginning of the use of ever smaller medical devices to treat a whole host of neurological diseases and localized pain. Poon’s wirelessly charged medical devices could also be used to replace certain drug therapies, helping avoid the side effects that many drugs cause as they can affect entire bodily systems.

Image credit: Schecter Films

Image credit: Schecter Films

The following video features Professor Ada Poon’s explanation of her pioneering discovery.


About Author

Kristian strives to enlighten and entertain readers. In addition to his teaching and editorial responsibilities, he is working on a science-fiction novel that promises not to include exoskeleton suits and anemic aliens floating in mysterious vats of green-tinted goop.

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