The first batteryless, solar-powered cardiac pacemaker

Haeberlin, Andreas; Zurbuchen, Adrian; Walpen, S; Schaerer, Jakob; Niederhauser, Thomas; Huber, Christoph; Tanner, Hildegard; Servatius, Helge Simon; Seiler, Jens; Haeberlin, H; Fuhrer, Jürg; Vogel, Rolf (2015). The first batteryless, solar-powered cardiac pacemaker. Heart rhythm, 12(6), pp. 1317-1323. Elsevier 10.1016/j.hrthm.2015.02.032

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Contemporary pacemakers (PMs) are powered by primary batteries with a limited energy-storing capacity. PM replacements because of battery depletion are common and unpleasant and bear the risk of complications. Batteryless PMs that harvest energy inside the body may overcome these limitations.


The goal of this study was to develop a batteryless PM powered by a solar module that converts transcutaneous light into electrical energy.


Ex vivo measurements were performed with solar modules placed under pig skin flaps exposed to different irradiation scenarios (direct sunlight, shade outdoors, and indoors). Subsequently, 2 sunlight-powered PMs featuring a 4.6-cm2 solar module were implanted in vivo in a pig. One prototype, equipped with an energy buffer, was run in darkness for several weeks to simulate a worst-case scenario.


Ex vivo, median output power of the solar module was 1963 μW/cm2 (interquartile range [IQR] 1940-2107 μW/cm2) under direct sunlight exposure outdoors, 206 μW/cm2 (IQR 194-233 μW/cm2) in shade outdoors, and 4 μW/cm2 (IQR 3.6-4.3 μW/cm2) indoors (current PMs use approximately 10-20 μW). Median skin flap thickness was 4.8 mm. In vivo, prolonged SOO pacing was performed even with short irradiation periods. Our PM was able to pace continuously at a rate of 125 bpm (3.7 V at 0.6 ms) for 1½ months in darkness.


Tomorrow's PMs might be batteryless and powered by sunlight. Because of the good skin penetrance of infrared light, a significant amount of energy can be harvested by a subcutaneous solar module even indoors. The use of an energy buffer allows periods of darkness to be overcome.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


10 Strategic Research Centers > ARTORG Center for Biomedical Engineering Research > ARTORG Center - Cardiovascular Engineering (CVE)
04 Faculty of Medicine > Pre-clinic Human Medicine > Institute of Anatomy
04 Faculty of Medicine > Faculty Institutions > Teaching Staff, Faculty of Medicine
10 Strategic Research Centers > ARTORG Center for Biomedical Engineering Research
04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of Cardiovascular Disorders (DHGE) > Clinic of Cardiology
04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of Cardiovascular Disorders (DHGE) > Clinic of Cardiovascular Surgery

UniBE Contributor:

Häberlin, Andreas David Heinrich, Zurbuchen, Adrian, Schaerer, Jakob, Niederhauser, Thomas, Huber, Christoph, Tanner, Hildegard, Servatius, Helge Simon (A), Seiler, Jens, Fuhrer, Jürg (A), Vogel, Rolf


600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health
500 Science > 570 Life sciences; biology








Andreas Häberlin

Date Deposited:

04 Jun 2015 16:11

Last Modified:

29 Mar 2023 23:34

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:





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