Research Stories

Triboelectricity for charging medical implants

Development of implantable ultrasound energy harvesting technology

Advanced Materials Science and Engineering
Prof. Hongjoon YOON · Ronan HINCHET

  • Triboelectricity for charging medical implants
  • Triboelectricity for charging medical implants
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Electronic implants offer many benefits but they are all powered by batteries that need to be replaced regularly through surgery, resulting in additional risks and costs. In this regard, powering medical implants is of great interest. Korean researchers at Sungkyunkwan University (SKKU) reported energy harvesting technology driven by ultrasound. Their study will be published through the journal Science on August 2nd.

Ultrasound, transmitted through the skin, makes Perfluoroalkoxy (PFA) membrane vibrate with about 200 μm of displacement at 20 kHz. Under ultrasound excitation, the membrane vibrates in a multimode, which ultimately induces continuous triboelectrification. Prof. Sang-Woo Kim's research team suggested the triboelectric energy harvesting technology driven by transcutaneous ultrasound for powering medical implants.

His group demonstrated mechanical energy harvesting by ultrasound using a rat skin. They also discovered that harvesting in a porcine tissue is feasible with vibrating and implantable triboelectric generator (VI-TEG). On top of that, they successfully charged Li-ion battery by taking advantage of the triboelectric generators for the first time.

Prof. KIM stated that "We showed for the first time the triboelectrification inside the body induced by transcutaneous ultrasound, which enables powering biomedical implants in safe and convenience manner." "We believe that our findings will be influential on future medical implants market."


[Reference] R. Hinchet et al., (2019) “Transcutaneous ultrasound energy harvesting using capacitive triboelectric technology.” Science

[Main Author] Hong-Joon YOON (Sungkyunkwan University), Sang-Woo KIM (Sungkyunkwan University)

* Contact email: Professor Sang-Woo KIM (