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Transmitting on all frequencies

FAU graduate develops new radio system for monitoring the health status of chronically ill patients

Modern medical technology has striven to develop efficient radio systems for use in the medical field for years. As part of her final thesis, Jasmin Weber, Diplom graduate of Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU), has developed an innovative medical radio system that transmits on two frequencies – thus avoiding harmful interplay between the two necessary function blocks of data transmission and power supply. She has recently been awarded the 2012 Bavarian Prize for Female Engineers for this achievement.

Demographic change is becoming increasingly noticeable which means that society is faced with new problems: chronic diseases are becoming more common. Continuous surveillance of the health status of chronically ill patients is extremely useful, but it is hardly possible for conventional medical personnel to provide this sort of surveillance as part of daily care. This is where modern medical electronics come into play: wireless systems could transmit patient data to medical sensor implants and at the same time be used for wireless power supply.

But these systems have all had one weakness up until now: wireless sending and receiving of data accounts for most of the power consumption in medical radio systems as radio signals passing through the human body are subject to high return loss. In order to provide a technological solution to this problem, Jasmin Weber has developed a new, original and highly innovative system concept that, unlike conventional systems, is based on two different carrier frequencies for the two function blocks of data communication and power supply. This allows for individual optimisation of both function blocks and thus a noticeable improvement in overall performance. Instead of carrying out the wireless transmission of power and data via the same carrier frequency of 13.56 MHz as in conventional RFID systems (RFID: radio frequency identification), the new ‘Split Frequency Concept’ uses a bi-frequency transmission platform: power continues to be supplied in the near field at 13.56 MHz; data transmission, however, is carried out in the MICS band at 402 MHz (MICS: Medical Implant Communication Service).

With her invention, Jasmin Weber has solved a pressing technological and scientific issue. Her Diplom thesis was written within the Leading Edge Cluster ‘Medical Valley’ at the Department of Electronics Engineering, headed by Prof. Dr. Weigel. The results of her research, as well as those of other research projects of the Medical Valley EMN, are now going directly towards the technical realisation of a demonstration system for the wireless transmission of patient data to medical implants.

The Medical Valley European Metropolitan Region Nuremberg (EMN) is one of the economically strongest and scientifically most active medical technology clusters in the world. It joins partners from economy, research, health care and politics in a single interdisciplinary network. Medical-technical products and services intended to make prevention, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of different disease patterns more efficient and effective are currently being developed in more than 40 projects. FAU is an important Medical Valley partner.

Further information:

Prof. Dr. Robert Weigel
Phone: +49 (0)9131 85 27200
weigel@lte.e-technik.uni-erlangen.de

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