Long-term validation study of a solar powered pacemaker

Bereuter, Lukas David; Williner, Sebastian; Zurbuchen, Adrian; Vogel, Rolf; Häberlin, Andreas (2016). Long-term validation study of a solar powered pacemaker. Biomedizinische Technik / Biomedical engineering, 61(S1), S73-S73. De Gruyter

Contemporary cardiac pacemakers are powered by primary batteries, featuring a limited energy storage. Thus, these devices need to be replaced after a few years due to battery depletion, causing costs and exposing patients to a risk of complications. To overcome this limitation, pacemakers without primary batteries are desirable. We recently introduced
a subcoutaneously implantable pacemaker that is powered by solar cells. Although covered by a skin layer, the implanted solar cells generate power, since a significant part of the light penetrates the skin. To investigate the real-life feasibility of such an implant and assess the influence of other factors such as weather or human behaviour, we established a study to determine the solar cell’s power output.

A wearable irradiation measurement device that continuously measures the output power of the solar cells (3 cells in series, KXOB22-12X1L, IXYS, USA; active cell area = 3.6 cm^2) was developed. The solar cells are covered by two optical filters to mimic the optical properties of human skin. For 6 months, 32 study participants (13 female, 19 male)
wore the device during their daily routine. Predominant weather and activity was described using a questionnaire for every day (608 days in total).

The measured mean power was 105 ± 130 μW for summer (July-August), 66 ± 111 μW for autumn (September-October) and 27 ± 49 μW for winter (November-December). No statistically significant difference was observed between males and females. Output power was higher when the people were predominantly outside (mean power over 6 months: 182 μW outside vs. 45 μW inside, p<0.001).

For every season, mean power is sufficient to power a pacemaker (power consumption ~10 μW). To increase safety, the implant features a rechargeable battery, which stores the surplus of the generated power. Thus, operation is ensured even during longer periods of darkness.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Abstract)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of Cardiovascular Disorders (DHGE) > Clinic of Cardiology
10 Strategic Research Centers > ARTORG Center for Biomedical Engineering Research > ARTORG Center - Cardiovascular Engineering (CVE)

Graduate School:

Graduate School for Cellular and Biomedical Sciences (GCB)

UniBE Contributor:

Bereuter, Lukas David; Zurbuchen, Adrian and Häberlin, Andreas David Heinrich


600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health
500 Science > 570 Life sciences; biology
600 Technology > 620 Engineering




De Gruyter


[UNSPECIFIED] Velux Foundation ; [UNSPECIFIED] Swiss Heart Foundation ; [UNSPECIFIED] Bern University Hospital ; [UNSPECIFIED] Stiftung für Herzschrittmacher und Elektrophysiologie




Lukas David Bereuter

Date Deposited:

24 May 2017 12:38

Last Modified:

14 Oct 2020 07:39



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