Charles Munson received the first place prize at Trophée MC6, a French scientific startup competition, where graduate student teams from the Grand Est region of France present their research in French within a six-minute limit to an audience of government officials and representatives from industry and universities.
Munson is a Ph.D. student in the Georgia Tech School of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) and is based at Georgia Tech-Lorraine (GTL). He is advised by Abdallah Ougazzaden, director of GTL and an ECE professor.
Munson and the Georgia Tech Lorraine team’s winning proposal was entitled “A Battery for an Eternal Heart,” which proposed the creation of a long-life betavoltaic battery that is small enough to fit in future pacemakers and can power the device for over 100 years with no need to recharge it. This long battery lifespan is possible due to the source material Nickel 63, in conjunction with gallium nitride, a highly durable semiconductor.
One of the main issues facing pacemaker technology today is that their batteries use lithium ion technology, which has a lifespan limited to 5 to 10 years in practice and results in the need for multiple replacements of the battery over time. By having a battery that has a nearly unlimited lifespan, the need for potentially costly and dangerous surgery can be drastically reduced, improving the quality of life for the hundreds of thousands of patients that have pacemakers implanted worldwide each year.
This long-life battery technology can also be used in other areas where the replacement of batteries is difficult or cost-prohibitive, such as sensors to monitor the health of bridges, space exploration, and underground or underwater sensing equipment.
Photo cutline: The 2016 MC6 Trophy is presented to ECE Ph.D. student Charles Munson (right) by Michel Corioland, commercial director of Ingerop (center).