Advanced Healthcare Materials

Self-Powered Implantable Medical Devices: Photovoltaic Energy Harvesting Review

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Implantable technologies are becoming more widespread for biomedical applications that include physical identification, health diagnosis, monitoring, recording, and treatment of human physiological traits. However, energy harvesting and power generation beneath the human tissue are still a major challenge. In this regard, self-powered implantable devices that scavenge energy from the human body are attractive for long-term monitoring of human physiological traits. Thanks to advancements in material science and nanotechnology, energy harvesting techniques that rely on piezoelectricity, thermoelectricity, biofuel, and radio frequency power transfer are emerging. However, all these techniques suffer from limitations that include low power output, bulky size, or low efficiency. Photovoltaic (PV) energy conversion is one of the most promising candidates for implantable applications due to their higher-power conversion efficiencies and small footprint. Herein, the latest implantable energy harvesting technologies are surveyed. A comparison between the different state-of-the-art power harvesting methods is also provided. Finally, recommendations are provided regarding the feasibility of PV cells as an in vivo energy harvester, with an emphasis on skin penetration, fabrication, encapsulation, durability, biocompatibility, and power management.