Mechanical Engineering assistant professor Shad Roundy, in the University of Utah’s College of Engineering received the National Science Foundation’s prestigious CAREER Award for his work in developing the use of low-frequency magnetic fields to power medical implants. This award is for five years.

Roundy received his award to research a way to use low-frequency magnetic fields to provide electrical power to medical implants such as a continuous blood glucose monitor or a metabolic sensor.

Medical devices that are surgically implanted have one key problem: They require battery power that ultimately runs out. Consequently, when they are depleted, they must be surgically removed and replaced. But Roundy and his team believe they can develop a system in which a small implantable device with a magnetoelectric power receiver can draw power from an external transmitter that the user could wear outside the body.

The target of the team is to safely supply 100 microwatts per cubic millimeter of power to a wide range of implanted sensors and therapeutic devices. These low-frequency magnetic fields are a viable option because of their low-absorption in human tissue.

“We’re just thrilled and honored that the NSF liked our ideas and approach,” Roundy said. “This is really going to enable us to look at it a little longer term and be a little more creative in looking at ways of powering them.”

Roundy graduated from Brigham Young University with a bachelor’s in 1996 in mechanical engineering. He then received his master’s and a doctorate in mechanical engineering from the University of California, Berkeley. You are invited to visit the Laboratory of Integrated Self-Powered Sensing to learn more about this research .