Harvesting energy from human cells for medical devices

Harvesting energy from human cells for medical devices
Business news |
Dresden-based start-up Celtro is developing nanowatt silicon that can be powered by the energy of human cells to drive autonomous medical implants
By Nick Flaherty


Celtro in Germany is developing a ‘NanoPower-BioChip’ that can harvest the electrical energy of cells in medical designs to power biosensors and even pace makers

“Moore’s Law is our friend,” says Gerd Teepe, co-founder and managing director of Celtro. “Today’s semiconductor technologies are amazingly powerful. 1000 billion computing operations per second can be performed with less than 1 watt of energy input. Biological processes, however, are much slower. This enables us to reduce the energy consumption to a few nanowatts. This is sufficient for biological functions and low enough to be generated by the tissue itself. Self-sufficient, implantable systems become possible.”

As part of the team of four founders, Teepe contributes his semiconductor expertise to Celtro’s development. With many years of experience at Motorola, AMD and GlobalFoundries, he contributes extensive know-how for the design of extremely power-saving transistor technologies. “You have to go very deep into technologies like FinFet and FDSOI to design circuits whose power consumption is in the nanowatt range,” Teepe says.

In December 2021, Celtro successfully closed its first financing round with private investors from Germany and the USA. The German state of Saxony is also financially supporting the development project as part of its technology support programme and enabled an early operational start.

The current focus is on semiconductor development in cooperation with Saxon partners. An expansion of the staff in Dresden with experts from the fields of semiconductor development, system development and cell biology is planned for 2022. With the conclusion of the seed financing round, the first phase of the “NanoPower-BioChip” development programme is secured. It will lay the foundation for cellular energy harvesting and demonstrate its feasibility.

“We are very pleased that both private investors and the Free State of Saxony are supporting our pioneering vision of energy-autonomous medical devices. The opportunity to combine advanced semiconductor, cell biology and medical research is a unique advantage of Dresden as a location and perfectly supports the mission of our company,” said Jarek Budny, co-founder of Celtro.


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