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Professor develops wireless energy transfer mechanism for medical chips


Assistant Professor Ada Poon of the Electrical Engineering department recently invented a safe method to transfer energy to medical chips in the body.

The technology, which was reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, wirelessly transfers power into the body. As waves travel differently when they come into contact with different materials, Poon was able to blend the safety of near-field waves with the reach of far-field waves.

Poon’s interdisciplinary research team embarked on the project with collaboration of John Ho M.A. ’12 and Alexander Yeh M.A. ’13, electrical engineering graduate students in Poon’s lab; Yuji Tanabe, a visiting scholar; and Ramin Beygui, associate professor of cardiothoracic surgery at Stanford University Medical Center. The group experimented with new ways to control electromagnetic waves to help make the wireless transfer of power into the body safe.

“To make electroceuticals practical, devices must be miniaturized, and ways must be found to power them wirelessly, deep in the brain, many centimeters from the surface,” said William Newsome, the Harman Family Provostial Professor and professor of neurobiology at Stanford.

This breakthrough technology will potentially allow for safely powering implantable micro devices in the future.

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Peter is currently a deputy desk editor and a freshman majoring in economics (anticipated). He enjoys soccer, basketball, and fitness.