Tissue-Independent Implantable Antenna for In-Body Communications

Queen’s University Belfast, ECIT, Centre for Wireless Innovation

Mr. Matthew Magill, Postgraduate Research Student

In recent years the use of implantable medical devices has increased as they allow improved monitoring and treatment of a wide range of medical conditions by providing real-time biotelemetric data. We’ve identified three main challenges with active RF implant communication systems:

  • Firstly – power consumption – implant transceivers are battery powered and, once implanted into the patient, require additional surgery to replace.
  • Secondly – implant antennas must operate in an unpredictable, dynamic environment within the body, and function effectively despite anatomical and tissue property variations caused by weight gain, aging, hydration levels.
  • Thirdly – implant antennas are typically designed to operate in a single tissue type, or location within the body, their radiation performance and efficiency are affected by the tissue around.

We have devised a new, robust, implantable antenna that maintains its return loss and radiation performance in a broad range of tissue types, in a broad range of patients.

Our printed folded meandered dipole antenna (PFMD) has good radiative properties in all types of tissues, and is robust enough to withstand any environmental variations once implanted to allow link budgets to be pushed to their limit for maximum efficiency. This was verified through a range of measurements using accurate human tissue phantom test-beds that emulate the environments encountered in clinical applications. Our PFMD antenna will remove the current limitations of implantable medical devices and enhance future mobile health and medical wireless networks.

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