By Kurt Kleiner

A new wireless computer sensor just a cubic millimeter in size could eventually be implanted in the eyes of people with glaucoma, taking pressure readings 24 hours a day and transmitting the data to doctors.

The new device packs a processor, memory, a pressure sensor, a solar cell, a thin-film lithium battery, and a transmitter into a tiny glass rectangle. University of Michigan researchers reported on the device earlier this week at the International Solid-State Circuits Conference in San Francisco.

The sensor takes pressure readings every 15 minutes and stores them in memory until they can be uploaded an external device. The solar cell, which measures just 0.07 square millimeters, constantly recharges the battery; it takes either 1.5 hours of sunlight or 10 hours of indoor light to charge it completely.

Dennis Sylvester, an electrical engineer at the University of Michigan, says that the real constraint in shrinking the device wasn't the size of the circuits but the tiny amount of power its battery was capable of providing. So every component was designed to use as little power as possible.

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Article Source, Technology Review, published by MIT.