When it comes to the treatment of certain neurological diseases, doctors are increasingly considering using battery-powered implants to stimulate certain parts of the brain,media reported. Now, however, scientists have developed a device powered by an external magnetic field. Typically, for diseases such as epilepsy or Parkinson’s disease, nerve stimulation electrodes can be surgically implanted into the brain.
The electrodes are hard-wired to a separate battery-powered pacemaker device, which is implanted under the skin of other parts of the body. Although the battery can be recharged, it eventually wears out and eventually needs to be replaced by surgery.
As an alternative, researchers have now developed a way to wirelessly charge brain implants when needed. Although energy sources such as ultrasound, radio waves and light energy have been proposed, scientists at Rice University in Houston, Texas, point out that all of these sources of energy are either disturbed by biological tissue or produce large amounts of harmful heat.
Led by graduate student Amanda Singer, their team developed a magnetic neurostimulator. It is shaped like a thin rectangular film — about the size of a grain of rice — made up of two layers of material. The first layer is a magnetically restricted foil consisting of iron, boron, silicon, and carbon, which vibrates at the molecular level when it is affected by a magnetic field, and the second layer is a piezoelectric crystal that converts the vibration of the foil into a voltage, and then the integrated circuit modulates the voltage to the extent that neurons react to it.
In laboratory tests, the team implanted an implant under the skin of the mouse’s head, which was attached to electrodes that extended to the brain’s reward center. These rodents can move freely in the cage, and they like to stay where they have magnetic field-activated devices.
“Our results suggest that radio power transmission using magnetic materials is not just a novel idea,” said Jacob Robinson, a communications author of the study. “
The study was published in Neuron.