A team of Rice University students has developed a transcutaneous energy-transfer (TET) unit to power a minimally invasive ventricular assist device (VAD) being created by a Houston compay. The VAD is a tiny pump inserted into the aorta via a catheter that helps increase blood flow and heal patients with heart failure. The Rice-designed complementary device sits a centimeter under the skin and feeds power to the VAD. The portal through the skin to a power supply can normally become infected, but this device avoids this problem by sending power to the VAD without wires.

The students' prototype consists of a small coil and a battery that would be inserted one centimeter under the skin at the patient's waist and wired to the VAD. The patient would also wear a belt-mounted external battery and coil to generate alternating magnetic fields and induce alternating current in the subcutaneous coil. The coils charge the battery, which can operate the pump for more than three hours.

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Also: Read about the design of a circulatory assist pump for an implantable artificial heart device.