Researchers develop biodegradable powerhouse for implants – Futura

Chinese researchers have developed a device to power biodegradable medical implants, such as those designed to deliver drugs. This “power supply,” which is also biodegradable, can be charged wirelessly, replacing batteries for continuous power supply.

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Research in the field of implantable electronics is making great progress and there are now many biocompatible and biodegradable sensors and other components. However, one of the biggest hurdles is how to power these components without letting batteries containing toxic chemicals enter the body.

Systems powered by magnetic induction already exist, but researchers at Lanzhou University in China have managed to develop a biodegradable power supply for implanted devices. The system is flexible and therefore adapts to the shape of the body. Researchers have successfully tested it on rats in combination with a drug delivery system. They published their results in the journal Science Advances.

Biodegradable supercapacitors

In order to be able to be charged, the power supply contains zinc-ion hybrid supercapacitors. It is not as efficient as a battery, but allows for short-term energy storage. The cathodes are made of molybdenum disulfide (MoS2) nanosheets and the anodes are made of zinc sheets. The implant is charged by magnetic induction using a magnesium coil. Then simply place another coil on the skin at the implantation site to provide energy.

The implant was covered with a layer of biocompatible polymer (PLGA) and wax that temporarily protects the components. After implantation in rats, the device worked properly for 10 days and takes about two months to be fully absorbed into the body. According to the researchers, the amounts of zinc and molybdenum released are below the recommended daily dose. Researchers have yet to develop a system to shut down the device, as for now it will continue to work until it is completely discharged.