Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies and Systems (IKTS) have developed a system that can transfer power wirelessly to electronic devices inside user’s bodies. The transmitter can provide 100 mW of power within a range of around 50 cm. This means that receivers can be located almost anywhere in the user’s body. The cylindrical transmitter module is so small and compact that it can be attached to a belt. It can be used to supply power to implants, medication dosing systems and other medical devices without touching them – such as ingestible endoscopic capsules that travel through the gastrointestinal tract and send images to the outside.
The transmitter module contains a spinning magnet driven by an electric motor, which generates a rotating magnetic field. This rotating field causes a magnetic pellet in the receiver to rotate, and this rotary motion is converted into electricity to power the transducer. This form of magnetic coupling allows power to be transferred through all non-magnetic materials, such as living tissue, bones, organs, water, plastics and even some metals. The magnetic field has no harmful effects on humans and does not cause tissue warming.
The prototype modules can be scaled in range, size and power to enable them to be used for non-medical applications. They could also supply power wirelessly to hermetically sealed sensors inside walls or bridges, among other applications. This would make them suitable for use in mechanical or civil engineering and in the construction industry.