Duty-cycled wireless power transmission for millimeter-sized biomedical implants

Muhammad Abrar Akram, Kai Wen Yang, Sohmyung Ha

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Wireless power transmission (WPT) using an inductively coupled link is one of the most popular approaches to deliver power wirelessly to biomedical implants. As the electromagnetic wave travels through the tissue, it is attenuated and absorbed by the tissue, resulting in much weaker electromagnetic coupling than in the air. As a result, the received input power on the implant is very weak, and so is the input voltage at the rectifier, which is the first block that receives the power on the implant. With such a small voltage amplitude, the rectifier inevitably has a very poor power conversion efficiency (PCE), leading to a poor power transfer efficiency (PTE) of the overall WPT system. To address this challenge, we propose a new system-level WPT method based on duty cycling of the power transmission for millimeter-scale implants. In the proposed method, the power transmitter (TX) transmits the wave with a duty cycle. It transmits only during a short period of time and pauses for a while instead of transmitting the wave continuously. In doing so, the TX power during the active period can be increased while preserving the average TX power and the specific absorption rate (SAR). Then, the incoming voltage becomes significantly larger at the rectifier, so the rectifier can rectify the input with a higher PCE, leading to improved PTE. To investigate the design challenges and applicability of the proposed duty-cycled WPT method, a case for powering a 1×1-mm2-sized neural implant through the skull is constructed. The implant, a TX, and the associated environment are modeled in High-Frequency Structure Simulator (HFSS), and the circuit simulations are conducted in Cadence with circuit components in a 180-nm CMOS process. At a load resistor of 100 kΩ, an output capacitor of 4 nF, and a carrier frequency of 144 MHz, the rectifier’s DC output voltage and PCE are increased by 300% (from 1.5 V to 6 V) and by 50% (from 14% to 64%), respectively, when the duty cycle ratio of the proposed duty-cycled power transmission is varied from 100% to 5%.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2130
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalElectronics (Switzerland)
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2020


  • Duty cycle
  • Mm-sized implant
  • Power conversion efficiency (PCE)
  • Power transfer efficiency (PTE)
  • Pulsed power transmission
  • Rectifier
  • Wireless power transmission (WPT)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Signal Processing
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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