Bioelectronics

Power from the ear

Journal name:
Nature
Volume:
491,
Page:
162
Date published:
DOI:
doi:10.1038/491162c
Published online

Researchers in Massachusetts have found a way to extract power from the ear.

P. P. MERCIER

Konstantina Stankovic of the Massachusetts Ear and Eye Infirmary in Boston, Anantha Chandrakasan at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge and their colleagues developed a chip (pictured) that can exploit the inner ear's electrical potential, which is generated to convert sound into neural impulses. The team inserted electrodes from the chip through a natural opening into the inner ear of an anaesthetized guinea pig. The chip extracted around 1 nanowatt of power for up to five hours — enough to power a small radio transmitter.

The system could eventually be used to harvest power for devices that diagnose and treat hearing loss in humans, the authors suggest.

Nature Biotechnol. http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nbt.2394 (2012)

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