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Autonomous and Miniature Implantable Systems

Ada Poon


Richard Feynman in his famous lecture from 1959, “There’s plenty of room at the bottom,” presented a wild idea of swallowable surgeons where tiny surgical robots are put inside the blood vessel, travel into the heart, look around, and send the information back to an external controller. These robots can even perform local operations and might be permanently incorporated in the body for continuous monitoring. The idea seems a science fiction dream. In recent years, however, there is major progress on implantable systems that support most of the functionalities of the swallowable surgeons. Nevertheless, these devices remain mostly restricted to research, in part due to limited miniaturization and power supply constraints. In this talk, I will address these limitations and show, both theoretically and experimentally, that higher frequency (GHz-range) RF power transmission leads to dramatic receiver miniaturization. Once it is feasible to continuously supply power to micro implants safely, it opens up new clinical applications of implantable systems. I will conclude the talk with an introduction of some of these new applications currently carried out in my group.


Ada received her B.Eng degree from the University of Hong Kong and her Ph.D. degree from the University of California at Berkeley. Her dissertation is in the area of information theory. Upon graduation, she spent one year at Intel building digital chips as a senior research scientist in 2004. Afterwards, she joined her advisor’s startup company, SiBeam Inc., architecting Gigabit wireless transceivers leveraging 60 GHz CMOS and MIMO antenna systems. After two years in industries, she returned to academic and joined the faculty of the ECE department at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Since then, she has been interested in medical electronics, and in vivo diagnostics and therapy. In 2008, she moved back to California and joined the faculty of the Department of Electrical Engineering at Stanford University. She is a Terman Fellow at Stanford University.

Ada Poon Headshot
Ada Poon
Stanford University
EEB 105
27 Oct 2009, 10:30am until 11:30am