Kamran Behdinan recognized with Connaught Global Challenge Award
Kamran Behdinan, a professor of mechanical and industrial engineering in the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering and an expert on harvesting biomechanical energies from physical movements, is the recipient of a Connaught Global Challenge Award.
Behdinan, who is researching battery-free wearable and implantable devices, aims to create a multidisciplinary global network of experts in the field of energy harvesting for biomedical applications. He is one of four researchers receiving the award for collaborations involving leading University of Toronto researchers and students from multiple disciplines, along with innovators and thought leaders from other sectors.
“Through collaboration, this network will speed up the development of new devices and train a new generation of experts in this emerging field,” he says. “Harvesting energy from body movement is an efficient and promising technique, and a crucial step toward true self-powered devices.”
Behdinan and his team design piezoelectric energy harvesters which can be configured to generate electricity from repeated human movements such as walking, or even the regular expansion and contraction of lung and heart tissue. In the future, electricity generated in this way could be used to provide power for various medical devices such as implantable glucose meters, artificial retina systems, smart contact lenses or even cardiac pacemakers.
“Implantable or wearable electronic devices need to be highly biocompatible, resilient and efficient,” says Behdinan, who heads the Advanced Research Laboratory for Multifunctional Lightweight Structures. “We’re getting there: current devices are very small and have low power requirements. But the need for battery power is a real bottleneck. Batteries are bulky, and they need to be replaced regularly, which interrupts the operation of the device. Also, if they leak, they can be very toxic.”