Implanted medical devices of the future could be laser powered

Should Dr. Evil ever have the need for an implanted medical device like a pacemaker, pain med pump, or insulin pump he will love this. Researchers looking into batteries that last longer for these implanted devices have hit on a discovery that may allow the devices to harvest power from a laser. This would allow the recharging of the medical device battery without having to cut the person open and place a new battery into the device.

Today these implanted devices have a battery good for about ten years. After that, a surgery is required to replace the battery. Considering things like pacemakers for the heart are required for the people to live, the ability to recharge the devices inside the human body is huge. The device a Japanese team of researchers has developed uses carbon nanotubes that are embedded in a silicon mix.

A laser shined from outside the body heats up one side of the power generation device allowing a temperature difference that creates a small voltage via the Seebeck effect. That small temperature change is then turned into energy to keep the device powered. The carbon nanotubes absorb heat very well and the implant for power would not need to be any larger than a half centimeter cubed. This could be one of the most life altering inventions for people depending on implanted battery powered devices to live in years.

[via PhysOrg]