Swimming through the blood stream: Stanford engineers create wireless, self-propelled medical device

Stanford electrical engineers have created a tiny wireless chip, driven by magnetic currents, that’s small enough to travel inside the human body. They hope it will be used for a wide range of biomedical applications, from delivering drugs to cleaning arteries.

This week, at the International Solid-State Circuits Conference, before an audience of her peers, Ada Poon demonstrated a tiny, wirelessly powered, self-propelled medical device capable of controlled motion through a fluid – blood, to be exact. The era of swallow-the-surgeon medical care may no longer be the stuff of science fiction.

Poon, an assistant professor of electrical engineering, is developing a new class of medical devices that can be implanted or injected into the human body and powered wirelessly using electromagnetic radio waves. No batteries to wear out. No cables to provide power.

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