Bioelectronics refers to the applications of biological materials and approaches within electronics. Such devices help improve the quality of life of people suffering from some disease or disability. For instance, glucose monitor enables diabetic people to monitor and control their sugar levels, reducing their need for constant health check-ups and hospital visits.
Researchers have made another advancement in the sector by inventing a unique flexile and bioelectric device that is also self-powered. The technology works by converting the body motions of an individual, like bending an elbow and other subtle movements like pulse on their wrists, into electricity. The device is highly relevant for Bioelectronics Market and may exponentially rise in demand within the sector as it can be efficiently used for powering wearable and implantable diagnostic sensors.
The magnetoelastic effect refers to how much a material is magnetized when tiny magnets are pushed together and then pulled apart with the help of mechanical pressure. The researchers in the present study discovered that this magnetoelastic effect does not only exist within a rigid system but can also occur in a soft-flexile system. To prove this theory, the team used a microscopic magnet dispersed in a paper-thin silicone matrix to create a magnetic field that can change in strength as the matrix undulates. They showed that as the strength of the magnetic field shifted, electricity was generated.
The team built a tiny, flexible magnetoelastic generator (almost the size of a U.S. quarter) comprising a neodymium-iron-boron nanomagnet and a platinum-catalyzed silicone polymer matrix. After that, they fixed it onto a participant’s elbow through a stretchy, soft silicone band. The researchers found that the magnetoelastic effect was four times higher than similarly-sized setups made using rigid metal alloys. Thus, evidence showed that the device was able to generate electrical currents of approx. 4.27 MPSC (Milliamperes per Square Centimetre) – 10,000 times greater than any state-of-the-art technology of a similar type.
The newly built flexible magnetoelastic generator is extremely sensitive that it can even convert human pulse waves into electrical signals. In addition, it can also act as a waterproof, self-powered health rate monitor. Moreover, the electricity generated could also sustainably power other wearable devices like a thermometer or sweat sensor. The most intriguing revelation from the experiments was that it tested well even after soaking the wearable magnetoelastic generator within artificial sweat for a week.
These findings collectively open up new windows of opportunity inside usable energy and therapeutic and sensing technologies that are human-body-centric and need to be connected to IoT (Internet of Things). The best part about the technology is that it enables people to stretch and move freely with comfort while the device keeps itself pressed to human skin. This is because it is dependent on magnetism instead of electricity or humidity. Thus, an individual’s sweat does not compromise its effectiveness.