Engineers from Rice University in the US have created a neural implant that can be programmed and charged remotely with a magnetic field.
The technology has the potential to be used in embedded devices like a spinal cord-stimulating unit with a battery-powered transmitter attached to a belt.
The integrated microsystem, called MagNI — from magnetoelectric neural implant — uses magnetoelectric transducers that allow the chip to harvest power from an alternating magnetic field outside the body.
The implant could be used to stimulate neurons in people with conditions such as epilepsy or Parkinson’s disease without heating surrounding tissue the way existing techniques do.
“This is the first demonstration that you can use a magnetic field to power an implant,” said Assistant Professor Kaiyuan Yang.
“By integrating magnetoelectric transducers with [complementary metal-oxide semiconductor] technologies, we provide a bioelectronic platform for many applications.”