EU-Funded smart-MEMPHIS project explores how energy harvesting can be used to power minimally invasive pacemakers as well as make aircrafts safer

Eight European companies, research institutes and universities join forces in the smart-MEMPHIS project. The objective of the project is to develop new, autonomous modules for energy harvesting. Energy harvesting systems that are developed within the smart-MEMPHIS project will have many applications ranging from implantable pacemakers to aircrafts. In cardiac pacemakers, the energy generated by heart beats will be used to power the implanted devices, thus bringing significant benefits to patients and healthcare professionals alike.

Energy harvesting for minimally invasive pacemakers with enhanced life time

© Sorin Group. Reproduced with permission

© Sorin Group. Reproduced with permission

Currently, state-of-the-art pacing systems are implanted under the skin in the patient’s chest. They deliver pacing therapy via insulated wires that are positioned within the heart. In the near future, minimally invasive devices with advanced features will deliver therapy directly within the heart, enhancing patient quality of life (minimal scars, fewer complications related to device replacements, etc.) and reducing healthcare costs.

In order to develop these downsized, smart implantable medical devices, researchers must find a solution to the problem of device longevity. Because these types of devices need to be miniaturized in order to fit inside the chambers of the heart, there is limited space available for power sources. In addition, removing implanted systems from inside the heart is complex, so the number of device replacements needs to be limited. A self-powered implantable device would overcome these technological constraints.  By developing modules for harvesting the energy generated by heart beats, the smart-MEMPHIS project will address these challenges and improve cardiac patients’ daily lives.

Early damage detection for safer aircrafts

The medical device sector is not the only one that will benefit from the expected results of the smart-MEMPHIS project. The energy harvesting system will also be tested in an industrial application: a wireless sensor network for structural health monitoring (SHM). Structural health monitoring is the process of detecting changes in materials or complex structures, for example micro-cracks in aircraft wings. This process currently requires many various sensors to collect data. The smart-MEMPHIS project is developing a wireless sensor network with self-powering acoustic sensor nodes. SHM will increase the safety of the monitored structures as it will identify any tiring, weakening or damage to the structures before they fail catastrophically.

For more information, please contact

CTO Thorbjörn Ebefors, Silex Microsystems AB, + 46 707 323102, smart-MEMPHIS project coordinator

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The smart-MEMPHIS consortium comprises nine partners across the value chain from universities and research organisations to a MEMS-manufacturer and both medical and industrial end users. The smart-MEMPHIS project started in December 2014 and will run for 3.5 years. The project is entirely funded by the European Union under the Horizon 2020 Framework programme with a budget of EURO 8.2 million.

The project is coordinated by the Swedish SME Silex Microsystems AB. Other partners include Acreo Swedish ICT, Chalmers Technical University and Linköping University from Sweden; Sorin CRM SAS and Vermon SA from France; Fraunhofer IZM and aixACCT Systems GmbH from Germany; and Spinverse Oy from Finland.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 644378.

Posted on March 13, 2015 and filed under News.