ABSTRACT:

In this paper, we present a novel energy-efficient electrode stimulator. Our stimulator uses inductive storage and recycling of energy in a dynamic power supply. This supply drives an electrode in an adiabatic fashion such that energy consumption is minimized. It also utilizes a shunt current-sensor to monitor and regulate the current through the electrode via feedback, thus enabling flexible and safe stimulation. Since there are no explicit current sources or current limiters, wasteful energy dissipation across such elements is naturally avoided. The dynamic power supply allows efficient transfer of energy both to and from the electrode and is based on a DC-DC converter topology that we use in a bidirectional fashion in forward-buck or reverse-boost modes. In an exemplary electrode implementation intended for neural stimulation, we show how the stimulator combines the efficiency of voltage control and the safety and accuracy of current control in a single low-power integrated-circuit built in a standard $.35~mu{rm m}$ CMOS process. This stimulator achieves a 2x–3x reduction in energy consumption as compared to a conventional current-source-based stimulator operating from a fixed power supply. We perform a theoretical analysis of the energy efficiency that is in accord with experimental measurements. This theoretical analysis reveals that further improvements in energy efficiency may be achievable with better implementations in the future. Our electrode stimulator could be widely useful for neural, cardiac, retinal, cochlear, muscular and other biomedical implants where low power operation is important.


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