Biodegradable Monocrystalline Silicon Photovoltaic Microcells as Power Supplies for Transient Biomedical Implants

Luyao Lu, Zijian Yang, Kathleen Meacham, Caroline Cvetkovic, Elise A. Corbin, Abraham Vázquez-Guardado, Mantian Xue, Lan Yin, Javaneh Boroumand, Grace Pakeltis, Tian Sang, Ki Jun Yu, Debashis Chanda, Rashid Bashir, Robert W. Gereau, Xing Sheng, John A. Rogers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Citations (Scopus)


Bioresorbable electronic materials serve as foundations for implantable devices that provide active diagnostic or therapeutic function over a timeframe matched to a biological process, and then disappear within the body to avoid secondary surgical extraction. Approaches to power supply in these physically transient systems are critically important. This paper describes a fully biodegradable, monocrystalline silicon photovoltaic (PV) platform based on microscale cells (microcells) designed to operate at wavelengths with long penetration depths in biological tissues (red and near infrared wavelengths), such that external illumination can provide realistic levels of power. Systematic characterization and theoretical simulations of operation under porcine skin and fat establish a foundational understanding of these systems and their scalability. In vivo studies of a representative platform capable of generating ≈60 µW of electrical power under 4 mm of porcine skin and fat illustrate an ability to operate blue light-emitting diodes (LEDs) as subdermal implants in rats for 3 d. Here, the PV system fully resorbs after 4 months. Histological analysis reveals that the degradation process introduces no inflammatory responses in the surrounding tissues. The results suggest the potential for using silicon photovoltaic microcells as bioresorbable power supplies for various transient biomedical implants.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1703035
JournalAdvanced Energy Materials
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Jun 5

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
L.L. and Z.Y. contributed equally to this work. The authors acknowledge support from the Center for Bio-Integrated Electronics, Simpson-Querrey Institute at Northwestern University. K.M. acknowledges support from the NIH T32 DK108742. A.V.-G., J.B., and D.C. acknowledge support from the National Science Foundation (Grant No. #CMMI-1450806) and Northrop Grumman Corporation (Grant No. #63018088). K.J.Y. acknowledges support from the National Research Foundation of Korea (Grant No. NRF-2017M1A2A2048904). X.S. acknowledges support from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Project 51602172).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Materials Science(all)


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