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January 15 2013

New-generation pacemaker could be powered by the heart

The same material that sparks barbecue lighters to flame may soon be used to power pacemakers with the beat of the human heart instead of batteries, say researchers at the University of Michigan.

A new generation of pacemakers, devices that regulate the human heartbeat via electrodes and current, could eventually rely on piezoelectric materials, which, when they vibrate, generate a small amount of electricity.

Graduate research fellow Amin Karami and Daniel Inman, chair of the university’s aerospace engineering department, hope to develop a pacemaker that uses a tiny piezoelectric piece to collect pulses of electricity each time the heart beats.

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