Exploiting Near Field and Surface Wave Propagation for Implanted Devices
This thesis examines the bandwidth shortcomings of conventional inductive coupling biotelemetry systems for implantable devices, and presents two approaches toward an end-to-end biotelemetry system for reducing the power consumption of implanted devices at increased levels of bandwidth. By leveraging the transition zone between the near and far field, scattering in the near field at UHF frequencies for increased bandwidth at low power budgets can be employed. Additionally, taking advantage of surface wave propagation permits the use of single-wire RF transmission lines in biological tissue, offering more efficient signal routing over near field coupling resulting in controlled implant depth at low power budgets.
Due to the dielectric properties of biological tissue, and the necessity to operate in the radiating near field to communicate via scattered fields, the implant depth drives the carrier frequency. The information bandwidth supplied by each sensing electrode in conventional implants also drives the operating frequency and regime. At typical implant depths, frequencies in the UHF range permit operation in the radiating near field as well as sufficient bandwidth.
Backscatter modulation provides a low-power, high-bandwidth alternative to conventional low frequency inductive coupling. A prototype active implantable device presented in this thesis is capable of transmitting data at 30 Mbps over a 915 MHz link while immersed in saline, at a communication efficiency of 16.4 pJ/bit. A prototype passive device presented in this thesis is capable of operating battery-free, fully immersed in saline, while transmitting data at 5 Mbps and consuming 1.23 mW. This prototype accurately demodulates neural data while immersed in saline at a distance of 2 cm. This communication distance is extended at similar power budgets by exploiting surface wave propagation along a single-wire transmission line. Theoretical models of single-wire RF transmission lines embedded in high permittivity and conductivity dielectrics are validated by measurements. A single-wire transmission line of radius 152.4 um exhibits a loss of 1 dB/cm at 915 MHz in saline, and extends the implant depth to 6 cm while staying within SAR limits.
This work opens the door for implantable biotelemetry systems to handle the vast amount of data generated by modern sensing devices, potentially offering new insight into neurological diseases, and may aid in the development of BMI's.
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