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Stimulating auditory nerve with MEMS harvesters for fully implantable and self-powered cochlear implants

Beker, Levent
Zorlu, Ozge
Goksu, Nebil
Külah, Haluk
This paper presents a novel method for stimulating auditory nerve inside cochlea via a MEMS piezoelectric energy harvester (PEH) implanted on eardrum or ossicles 1 . In this method, the harvester composed of several cantilevers with varying resonance frequencies within the hearing band is utilized. The signals generated by each cantilever of the PEH are used to stimulate the corresponding section of the auditory nerve. The proposed method mimics the natural operation of cochlea, therefore eliminates the use of microphone, sound processor, battery, and transmitter that are currently used in conventional cochlear implants (CI's). In this framework, a single-cantilever MEMS PEH prototype is designed and fabricated. The prototype generates adequate signal to stimulate the auditory nerve at a typical eardrum vibration, proving the method's feasibility for the next generation fully implantable and self-powered CI's.