Implantable Devices

Rap music as medicine

The sound of rap music already entertains millions. In the future, it could save the lives of thousands.

Babak Ziaie, a professor of electrical and computer engineering and biomedical engineering and a member of the Birck Nanotechnology Center, is harnessing rap’s driving bass rhythms to power a new type of miniature medical sensor, with potential applications ranging from monitoring incontinence to treating aneurysms.

Ziaie’s sensor, a microelectromechanical system (MEMS), employs acoustic waves from music to drive a vibrating device called a cantilever, generating a charge to power the tiny sensor.

Music within a certain range of frequencies, from 200 to 500 hertz, causes the cantilever to vibrate, generating electricity and storing a charge in a capacitor. A plain tone can also be used, but Ziaie says that he thinks music — rap, classical, jazz, whatever fits the frequency — is more pleasant.

- Linda Terhune

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