Beam steering ultrasound for wireless power to medical implants

Beam steering ultrasound for wireless power to medical implants

Technology News |
By Nick Flaherty

Belgian research lab imec has developed a new technique for wireless power beam steering to medical implants using ultrasound.

The wireless power proof-of-concept developed by imec and Delft University of Technology  has less then half the power consumption of other systems and a small footprint, which is particularly important for brain implants.

The CMOS design was developed as part of the Horizon 2020 Intranet of Neurons project and is shown at the International Solid-State Circuits Conference (IEEE ISSCC 2024) in the US this week for the first time. The transducer measures 0.75mm×1.88mm and is integrated on a PCB measuring 8 mm x 5.3 mm. This enables precise beam steering (up to a 53-degree angle) with 69% less power consumption.

The researchers used a new adiabatic driving technique based on the concept of global charge redistribution (GCR). This uses the parasitic capacitors of the ultrasound transducer array itself and recycles the charge, eliminating external capacitors for a more compact design.

The chip is built in 65nm CMOS with a fully integrated 116μm×116μm driving unit that allows for 69 percent power savings compared to conventional class-D driving. This design makes it both the smallest ultrasonic adiabatic driving unit with the lowest power consumption among state-of-the-art systems.

For medical use beam steering up to large angles (>45˚) is critical to maximize power delivery and compensate for brain micro-movements and any misalignments that happen during surgery and respiration.

With the introduction of a beam steering controller, imec’s GCR scheme enables beam steering up to 53 degrees.

“While many neural implant technologies are currently making significant progress in sensing and stimulation, wireless interfaces, as one of the crucial components of implants, still have much room for improvement, particularly in terms of power efficiency and form factor,” said Yao-Hong Liu, Scientific Director at imec.

“To bridge this gap and unlock the full potential of neural implants, we are leveraging our unique wireless, power, and telemetry technologies, to develop minimally invasive wireless systems tailored for miniaturized implants, with applications beyond intracortical neural implants.”


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