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Materials Perspectives for Self-Powered Cardiac Implantable Electronic Devices toward Clinical Translation
Accounts of Materials Research  (IF),  Pub Date : 2021-08-23, DOI: 10.1021/accountsmr.1c00078
Jun Li, Xudong Wang

Represented by pacemakers, implantable electronic devices (CIEDs) are playing a vital life-saving role in modern society. Although the current CIEDs are evolving quickly in terms of performance, safety, and miniaturization, the bulky and rigid battery creates the largest hurdle toward further development of a soft system that can be attached and conform to tissues without causing undesirable physiologic changes. Over 50% of patients with pacemakers require additional surgery procedures to replace a drained battery. Abrupt battery malfunction and failure contributes up to 2.4% of implanted leadless pacemakers. The battery also has risks of lethal interference with diagnostic magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Applying the implantable nanogenerators (i-NGs) technology to CIEDs is regarded as a promising solution to the battery challenge and enables self-powering capability. I-NGs based on the principle of either triboelectricity (TENG) or piezoelectricity (PENG) can convert biomechanical energy into electricity effectively. Meanwhile, a complete heartbeat cycle provides a biomechanical energy of ∼0.7 J or an average power of 0.93 W, which is sufficient for the operation of CIEDs considering the power consumption of 5–10 μW for a pacemaker and 10–100 μW for a cardiac defibrillator. It is therefore practical to leverage the effective, soft, flexible, lightweight, and biocompatible i-NGs to eliminate the bulky battery component in CIEDs and achieve self-sustainable operation. In this rapidly evolving interdisciplinary field, materials innovation acts as a cornerstone that frames the technology development. Here we bring a few critical perspectives regarding materials design and engineering, which are essential in leading the NG-powered CIEDs toward clinical translations. This Account starts with a brief introduction of the cardiac electrophysiology, as well as its short history to interface the state-of-the-art cardiac NG technologies. Three key components of NG-powered CIEDs are discussed in detail, including the NG device itself, the packaging material, and the stimulation electrodes. Cardiac NG is the essential component that converts heartbeat energy into electricity. It demands high-performance electromechanical coupling materials with long-term dynamic stability. The packaging material is critical to ensure a long-term stable operation of the device on a beating heart. Given the unique operation environment, a few criteria need to be considered in its development, including flexibility, biocompatibility, antifouling, hemocompatibility, and bioadhesion. The stimulation electrodes are the only material interfacing the heart tissue electrically. They should provide capacitive charge injection and mimic the soft and wet intrinsic tissues for the sake of stable biointerfaces. Driven by the rapid materials and device advancement, we envision that the evolution of NG-based CIEDs will quickly move from epicardiac to intracardiac, from single-function to multifunction, and with a minimal-invasive implantation procedure. This trend of development will open many research opportunities in emerging materials science and engineering, which will eventually lead the NG technology to a prevailing strategy for powering future CIEDs.