A breakthrough at Stanford has created a Fantastic Voyage-style vehicle that can ‘swim’ through a patient’s veins, powered wirelessly by electromagnetic waves from doctors from outside.
The device could deliver drugs, perform surgery, or just take on ‘reconnaissance missions’ which would otherwise require invasive endoscope treatments.
The current prototype chip is only three millimeters wide and four millimeters long.
‘Such devices could revolutionize medical technology,’ said Poon. ‘Applications include everything from diagnostics to minimally invasive surgeries.’
Poon’s most recent creation, could travel through the bloodstream to deliver drugs, perform analyses, and perhaps even zap blood clots or remove plaque from sclerotic arteries.
The idea of implantable medical devices is not new, but most of today’s implements are challenged by the size of their batteries, which are large and heavy and must be replaced periodically. Fully half the volume of most of these devices is consumed by battery.
‘While we have gotten very good at shrinking electronic and mechanical components of implants, energy storage has lagged in the move to miniaturize,’ said co-author Teresa Meng, a professor of electrical engineering and computer science. ‘This hinders us in where we can place implants within the body and also creates the risk of corrosion or broken wires, not to mention replacing aging batteries.’
The transmitter and the antennae are magnetically coupled such that any change in current flow in the transmitter produces a voltage in the other wire – or, more accurately, it induces a voltage.
The power is transferred wirelessly. It can be used to run electronics on the device and propel it through the bloodstream.
Attribution: By Rob Waugh