New wireless, battery-free pacemaker is powered by microwaves

Researchers from Rice University and the Texas Heart Institute are introducing a wireless pacemaker that can be implanted directly into a patient’s heart at this week's IEEE’s International Microwave Symposium in Honolulu, running through June 9.

The pacemaker, designed by Aydin Babakhani, an electrical and computer engineering professor at Rice, uses radio frequency radiation energy from a microwave to operate, according to a June 5 press release. Unlike more traditional pacemakers, Babakhani’s device reduces common complications like bleeding and infection.

“This technology brings into sharp focus the remarkable possibility of achieving the ‘Triple Crown’ of treatment of both the most common and most lethal cardiac arrhythmias: external powering, wireless pacing and—far and away most importantly—cardiac defibrillation that is not only painless but is actually imperceptible to the patient,” said Mehdi Razavi, MD, the director of clinical arrhythmia research and innovation at THI and an associate professor at Baylor College of Medicine, who collaborated with Babakhani on making of the new pacemaker.

The device was successfully tested on animals, showing that it was able to increase an animal’s heart rate from 100 to 172 beats per minute.