The microscale electronic sensor monitors blood flow through artificial blood vessels. Surgeons use these prosthetic grafts to bypass diseased or clogged blood vessels in patients experiencing restricted blood supply, for example.
Over time, however, the graft can also become blocked. To avoid complete failure, blood flow through the graft must be monitored regularly, but existing techniques are slow and costly.
Monitoring blood flow rate inside prosthetic vascular grafts enables early detection of graft degradation and prevention of graft failure.
The implant is powered by a handheld external reader, which uses inductive coupling to wirelessly transfer energy. The team developed an ultralow-power application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) for the implant designed for low-power (21.6 μW) use.
The sensors are based on piezoresistive silicon nanowires. As blood flows over the sensor, the associated mechanical stresses induce a measurable increase in electrical resistance, proportional to the flow pressure.
“Our flow sensor system achieves an ultra-low power consumption of 12.6 microwatts,” said A*STAR’s Jia Hao Cheong, who heads the project. To achieve that the sensor transmits its data to the handheld reader passively, by backscattering some of the incoming energy. “We have tested our system with 50-millimeter-thick tissue between the external coil and implantable coil, and it successfully extracted the pressure data from the implantable device.”
“The next step of the project is to integrate the system and embed it inside a graft for an experimental animal,” Cheong said.
It wouldn't be that much of a hurdle to convert the current Sensors used to read the brains electrical signals to wireless.