According to the Laws of Thermal Dynamics, there is no such things as perpetual motion. However, engineers at the University of Michigan seemed to have created a device which defies that rule. Not only that, they seem to have overcome one of the pacemakers greatest drawbacks, i.e. the fact that it requires batteries to keep working. Utilizing a process known as piezoelectricity – electricity generated by pressure and/or external force – they have created the world’s first pacemaker which is powered by the beating of one’s heart.
This is an exciting development for obvious reasons: by creating a pacemaker which can utilize the vibrations in the chest cavity to power itself, this device can function indefinitely. As long as the user’s heart keeps beating, the pacemaker will continue to assist the heart in maintaining its rhythm. Hence the concept of perpetual motion, where feedback is used to keep things going for an infinite duration.
Currently, pacemakers are powered by batteries which have a duration of a few years. This requires that patients undergo surgery regularly in order to keep their pacemakers in working order. According to M. Amin Karami, the lead researcher, “Many of the patients are children who live with pacemakers for many years,” he said. “You can imagine how many operations they are spared if this new technology is implemented.”
The piezoelectric pacemaker is about the size of a regular battery, and has been tested extensively. According to Karami, it was able to generate create enough electricity from as few as 20 beats per minute, or as many as 600, to maintain a healthy heartbeat. However, there are still likely to be many years of testing before it is approved for medical use.
But most exciting is the implications this pacemaker has for other biomedical devices such as dispensers and sensors – all of which would live under our skin and be powered by our body heat and movements. Image if everyone was born with a defibrillator/pacemaker implanted in their chest. Surely, death from heart disease would drop substantially, and people would even be able to jack their heart rate up in emergency situations.
Check out this video of the piezoelectric pacemaker in action.
Source: Extreme Tech