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

90 Scopus citations


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
StatePublished - Jun 5 2018


  • biodegradable
  • in vivo powering
  • medical implants
  • solar cells
  • transient electronics


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