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Under the Skin: The Future of Biodegradable, Wireless Energy Systems

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In recent years, the field of bioelectronic implants has witnessed significant advancements. These minimally invasive devices, such as monitoring sensors and drug delivery implants, have revolutionized the way we monitor and treat patients. However, the development of power modules to run these devices has lagged behind. Existing biodegradable power supply units often have limited power generation and can only be used once, while other options like transdermal chargers can cause inflammation and non-rechargeable batteries may require surgical replacement, leading to complications.

wireless charger Under the skin
The power supply and storage device created by a team of Chinese scientists is biodegradable and wireless.

A Breakthrough in Biodegradable Power Systems

Addressing this critical gap, a team of Chinese scientists from Lanzhou University has made a groundbreaking discovery. They have successfully created a wireless, biodegradable energy receiving and storage device that can power bioelectronic implants. This innovative technology holds the potential to revolutionize the field of implantable bioelectronic systems.

The Wireless Power Supply Device

The wireless power supply device developed by the Chinese scientists consists of a magnesium coil and an external transmitting coil. When the transmitting coil is placed on the skin above the implant, the magnesium coil charges the device. The power received by the magnesium coil then passes through a circuit before entering an energy storage module, which is made up of zinc-ion hybrid supercapacitors.

Supercapacitors: High Power Density for Constant Energy Discharge

Supercapacitors store electrical energy, providing an alternative to traditional batteries that store chemical energy. While supercapacitors store less energy per unit volume, they have high power density, meaning they can consistently discharge a significant amount of energy. This makes them ideal for powering bioelectronic implants.

Integration of Energy Harvesting and Storage

The prototype power supply system, contained within a flexible biodegradable chip-like implant, seamlessly integrates energy harvesting and storage into a single device. The power can flow through the circuit directly into the attached bioelectronic device, as well as into the supercapacitor for storage. This design ensures a constant and reliable power output once the charging process is complete.

Biocompatibility and Biodegradability

Both zinc and magnesium are essential for the human body, and the researchers have taken precautions to ensure the safety of the device. The amounts of these materials present in the device are below daily intake levels, making the dissolvable implants biocompatible. Furthermore, the entire device is encapsulated in polymer and wax, allowing it to bend and twist to adapt to the structure of the surrounding tissue.

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Longevity and Dissolvability

Tests conducted on rats have shown that the device can effectively function for up to 10 days and fully dissolves within two months. The researchers also discovered that the device’s lifespan can be adjusted by modifying the thickness and chemistry of the encapsulation layer. This flexibility opens up opportunities for various applications in drug delivery systems.

The Potential of Drug Delivery Systems

The integration of the wireless power supply device with bioelectronic implants opens up exciting possibilities for drug delivery systems. These systems can be integrated into different tissues and organs in the body, playing a vital role in localized, on-demand drug delivery and therapy. The wireless power supply device ensures a constant and reliable energy source for these drug delivery systems, enhancing their effectiveness.

Demonstrating Functionality: Implantation in Rats

To demonstrate the functionality of the power supply device, the researchers conducted an experiment on rats. They connected stacked supercapacitors with a receiving coil and a biodegradable drug delivery device, which contained an anti-inflammatory medicine. The implanted prototype, although not encapsulated into a single device, effectively reduced the fever induced by yeast in the rats. The temperatures recorded in the group with the implant were significantly lower than those without, indicating successful drug delivery.

Challenges and Future Developments

While the prototype represents a significant step forward in advancing implantable bioelectronic devices, there are still challenges to overcome. One of these challenges is turning the device on and off, as it currently only stops when it runs out of power. However, the researchers believe that controlled triggering of charging can address this issue, allowing for better control over the device’s functionality.


The development of a wireless, biodegradable power supply device for bioelectronic implants marks a significant milestone in the field of healthcare technology. This breakthrough technology has the potential to revolutionize the way we monitor and treat patients, offering precise and reliable power solutions for implantable bioelectronic devices. As research progresses, we can expect further advancements in biodegradable, wireless energy systems, opening up new possibilities for personalized medicine and improved patient care.


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