Ultrasound to recharge body systems

The new technology improves the efficiency of ultrasound wireless energy transmission by generating electrical friction energy. Ultrasound has applications in wireless charging of batteries underwater or in electronic devices implanted in the body.

The number of patients using implanted electronic devices, such as artificial defibrillators and defibrillators, worldwide is increasing with age and advances in medical technology. Currently, the batteries of implanted devices are replaced through an incision, which can lead to health complications. As a result, a new wireless charging technology for energy transfer is being developed that can be used to charge implanted devices in the body without surgery. This same technology can also be used to charge the batteries of underwater devices, such as sensors, which are used to monitor the condition of underwater cables.

The Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST, President: Seok-Jin Yoon) announced that a research team led by Dr. Hyun-Cheol Song at the Electronic Materials Research Center has developed an ultrasonic wireless energy transmission technology that can be applied in the above research fields.

Electromagnetic induction (EM) and magnetic resonance can be used to transmit energy wirelessly. EM induction is currently used in smartphones and wireless earbuds; However, its use is limited because electromagnetic waves cannot pass through water or metal, resulting in a short charging distance. Moreover, this method cannot easily be used to recharge implanted medical devices because the heat generated during recharging is harmful. The magnetic resonance method requires that the resonant frequencies of the magnetic field generator and transmitter are exactly the same; In addition, there is a risk of interference with other wireless communication frequencies, such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

Credits: Korea Institute of Science and Technology

Therefore, the KIST team adopted ultrasound as a means of transmitting energy, rather than electromagnetic waves or magnetic fields. Sonar, which uses ultrasound, is commonly used in underwater environments, and the safety of using ultrasound in the human body has been well established for many medical applications, such as diagnosing fetal organs or conditions. However, current acoustic energy transmission methods are not easily commercialized due to the low efficiency of acoustic energy transfer.

The research team developed a model that receives ultrasound waves and converts them into electrical energy using the principle of electrical friction that allows small mechanical vibrations to be efficiently converted into electrical energy. By adding ferroelectric material to the friction electrostatic generator, the ultrasonic energy transmission efficiency is significantly improved from less than 1% to more than 4%. In addition, more than 8 megawatts of power can be charged at a distance of 6 cm, which is enough to simultaneously power 200 LEDs or connect underwater Bluetooth sensor data. Moreover, the newly developed device has high energy conversion efficiency and generates marginal amounts of heat.

Dr. Song explained the significance of the results as follows: “This study showed that electronic devices can be powered by wireless charging via ultrasound. If the stability and efficiency of the device are improved in the future, this technology could be applied to deliver wireless power to implantable sensors or deep-water sensors, where battery replacement is a complex matter. “

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