Using ultrasounds to communicate with chips

Stanford engineers can already power this prototype medical implant chip without wires by using ultrasound. Now they want to make it much smaller. Credit: Stanford University

Just one week ago I posted a news on using ultrasounds through a hand held device to make this technique available for in field diagnostics.

Now, engineers at Stanford University have managed to find a way to power and communicate with medical chips embedded in the body using ultrasounds emitted by a pen like device touching the skin.

This would allow implanting smart chips deep into our body to release drugs, monitor a variety of parameters and relieve pain. 

Ultrasounds are routinely used in several medical exams and it is possibile to direct them quite precisely to a specific area of the body, thus focusing their "power". At the same time ultrasounds can be captured by chips as small as a a millimetre, thus ideal to be implanted using a needle.

The mechanisms found by the engineers at Stanford is able to convert the ultrasounds into an electrical current, sufficient to power a variety of chips that will be able to operate and transmit back the results of their analyses. The current is created through the piezo electric effect. A microscopic piezoelectric material is embedded in the chip and the ultrasounds create waves of compression and decompression that are converted into an electrical current.

The chip can transmit to the external of the body using a microscopic antenna.

Author - Roberto Saracco

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