Galvanic power transfer Galvanic power transfer

Abstract: While galvanic coupling for intrabody communications has been explored recently by a number of research groups, its use for powering electronic implants remains elusive. A probable cause of reluctance to adopt galvanic coupling as a power transfer method is a mistaken concern regarding its safety; whereas moderate (<10 mA) low frequency (<100 Hz) currents can indeed be dangerous, large (>1 A) high frequency (>100 kHz) currents can safely flow through the human body if applied as short bursts. The main drawback of galvanic coupling would be its poor energy transfer efficiency in comparison to other power transfer methods such as inductive coupling. However, although efficiency is an aspect to consider, it is not necessarily the most important one when developing systems based on electronic implants. For instance, it is far more important to be able to power deep seated implants, something not easily achievable with inductive coupling. This project will illustrate how and when galvanic coupling would be applicable for powering electronic implants. Different hypothetical scenarios will be considered, such as microstimulators for Deep Brain Stimulation, and power strategies based on galvanic coupling will be envisioned and analyzed by means of numerical simulations with realistic anatomical features and realistic passive electrical properties of the living tissues. A finite element method (FEM) software platform will be employed and criteria defined by IEEE and ICNIRP electrical safety standards will be followed.