Ada Poon, Stanford

This engineer is at the forefront of nanotechnology and wirelessly enabled devices

Affiliation: Stanford
Title: Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering

Ada Poon is a pioneer in the emerging field of electroceuticals. Her technology combines the safety of near-field electromagnetic waves with the ability of far-field waves to travel long distances to enable wireless energy transfer. Stanford just announced that this master inventor has made another breakthrough using her innovative technique of powering devices.

Poon previously developed a method of powering nanopacemakers and other tiny devices deep inside the body, advancing the development of electroceuticals as a potential alternative, or even replacement, to pharmaceuticals. In fact, one of the gadgets built by Poon's team at the Stanford Integrated Biomedical Systems lab was a pacemaker-like device smaller than a grain of rice that can be charged from outside the body.

In the latest development, Poon's technology enhanced an experimental study of chronic pain in mice, Stanford said in a news release. In order to control the activity of the mice's neurons, other Stanford researchers genetically engineered the animals' nerves to make them sensitive to light. Due to the elimination of wires from the experiment, the mice were free to use the exercise wheel and socialize, making the study more realistic.

The big advantage of so-called midfield wireless transfer is that the approach makes it possible to wirelessly charge nanobatteries within implants, eliminating the need to reinstall batteries and allowing for smaller devices.

"To make electroceuticals practical, devices must be miniaturized, and ways must be found to power them wirelessly, deep in the brain, many centimeters from the surface," said Stanford professor of neurobiology William Newsome in the Stanford news release following the development of the wireless implants. "The Poon lab has solved a significant piece of the puzzle for safely powering implantable microdevices, paving the way for new innovation in this field."

Born in Hong Kong, Poon previously worked at Intel as a senior research scientist. She originally used her expertise in wireless technology to improve communication systems but has now found a novel use for her specialization--to the benefit of the med tech industry.

And hopefully patients' health in the future.

For more:
Stanford researcher creating a novel device to study pain
Researchers develop method of powering nanoimplants from outside body

-- Varun Saxena (email | Twitter)

Ada Poon, Stanford
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