Wearable, implanted, and injectable tech devices can perform some amazing tasks, but most also require advances in miniature power sources. In previous posts, we wrote about various technologies for wearables and implants. Georgia Tech researchers created a device that harvests energy for implants via a triboelectric effect. Engineers at Vanderbilt University created a thin film with black phosphorus that converts body motion into energy to power sensors. A team from Darmouth and UT Health San Antonio devised a thin-film energy conversion technology that gets energy from a beating heart to power pacemakers and defibrillators.

Leti is a research center with multidisciplinary teams that develops micro and nanotechnologies at France’s CEA Tech (which in turn is a branch of the  French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA)). CES-Leti has developed inorganic, thin-film batteries (TFBs) that outperform other thin-film power sources. The Leti team uses a 20μm-thick Lithium cobalt oxide, (LiCoO2) cathode with no anode.

According to Leti, their technology provides high-density power without significant I/O switching noise that can interfere with sensitive electrical measurements. Sami Oukassi, the lead author, presented a paper on the Leti team’s work at the 2019 IEEE International Electron Devices Meeting in December. In the study, “Millimeter Scale Thin-Film Batteries for Integrated High-Energy-Density Storage,” the Leti team stated that millimeter-scale TFBs show the best energy and power density performance of all technologies currently used to power implants. In addition, the fabrication process is viable for large scale production including control and fine-tuning for various application requirements.

According to the team, the Leti TFB is appropriate for implanted intraocular pressure sensors and blood glucose monitors, for cochlear implants and smart contact lenses. Advances in energy storage such as this have the potential to make a wide range of health tech devices practical,