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Review of Class-E Oscillators as

Wireless Power Transmitters
For Biomedical Implants


Nikhil Kumar
PhD student at University of Illinois at Chicago
UIN: 655818534

Class-E Oscillators as Wireless Power Transmitters for Biomedical Implants

Anthony N. Laskovski, School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, University of Newcastle
Callaghan, NSW, Australia 2308; Mehmet R. Yuce, School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science,
University of Newcastle Callaghan, NSW, Australia 2308

With the advancements in biomedical implant technology such as cochlear and retinal prosthesis, cardiac
pacemakers, implantable cardioverter defibrillators, one of the primary focus is on the design and
performance of the medical devices or implants placed in or on the surface of the body within tight space
constraints. Constant supply of wireless power to these implants within such constraints has been an
Achilles heel. Owing to their smaller size, higher frequency of operation is required which makes the
power transfer inefficient as some of the power get absorbed in human tissues and degrade in external and
internal power conditioning blocks, causing implants to fail or stop working completely. To increase the
power transfer efficiency at such high frequencies, Nathan sokal and Alan sokal invented a class-E
amplifier which is now widely adopted as a means by which energy is transferred inductively to the
implanted device. Since the amplifier belongs to the category of switching amplifiers, the requirement of
square wave input at the gate terminal of the semiconductor device led to the development of class-E
oscillator. Class E oscillator works on the principle of feeding back the oscillated output signal to the
input of the switching amplifier such that the circuit will be self-oscillating similar to the Colpitts
Oscillator and devoid of any dedicated LC oscillator or a crystal. In this paper, author has discussed and
compared several class-E oscillator topologies with equivalent class-E amplifier, demonstrating higher
efficiency while maintaining frequency clarity, stability and accuracy.

Value to the academia and industry:

Healthcare systems face challenges in meeting their aims to provide good quality care to their citizens
within tight budgets. Ageing population in the developed world is perhaps one of the greatest concerns in
providing quality health care in the future. Due to recent technological advancement in the field of
electronics, medical telemetry is making its way into the body in the form of implantable monitoring

devices which registers a patients biological information at all time. The dominant players in the
orthopedic implant market are Stryker, Zimmer, Johnson & Johnson Synthes and Biomet, while
Medtronic is a top player in the spinal implant market. The new study by Medcity has shown that
U.S. implantable medical devices market will grow at an annual compounded rate of 8 percent
over seven years to be worth $73.9 billion by 2018. One of the key aspect for such implanted devices
is the transfer of power which is usually done via inductive links. Extreme miniaturization of the
implanted electronics device is recognized as an essential aspect for minimizing the damage and
disruption of surrounding neural tissue. Owing to their small size, the electronic implants are more prone
to failure due to inefficient power transfer and coupling insensitivity due to coil misalignments. These are
one of the main challenges that most healthcare companies face.

Technical aspect of the paper:

Class-E oscillator is similar to class-E amplifier except the fact that class E amplifier requires an external
source which provides continuous high frequency square wave input to the semiconductor device as
shown in Fig.1 whereas in class-E oscillator, high frequency square wave input is generated by using a
LC or crystal feedback as shown in Fig.2 and Fig.3.

Figure 1. Schematic of Class-E amplifier

Figure 2. Class-E oscillator with LC feedback

Figure 3. A class-E oscillator with crystal feedback

The amplifier's high efficiency operation lies in the shape of the voltage across C1. Circuit elements are
chosen such that the voltage at this point is zero when the transistor is switched on such that no stored
energy is dissipated from the capacitor. The voltage is shaped such that the rate of change of voltage (d

V c 1 /dt) across this point is also zero. The idea of feeding an oscillated output signal back to the input
of the amplifier implies that the circuit becomes self-oscillating similar to the Colpitts oscillator while
operating with zero switching conditions. This is the concept behind the Class-E Oscillator. Table 1
displays a comparison between different class-E circuits.
Class-E circuit
Oscillator with


100 Kohm

27 MHz
34 MHz

Oscillator with crystal

100 Kohm

27 MHz

20.5 dBm

20.5 dBm

100 %



34 MHz

16.2 dBm

9.9 dBm

23.44 %


B/E element


Input power
18.9 dBm
15.5 dBm

Output power
11.2 dBm
11.4 dBm

16.98 %
38.9 %

Oscillator with crystal

Zener diode

27 MHz

18 dBm

18 dBm

100 %


Comments on three reference papers:


N. Sokal and A. Sokal, Class e-a new class of high-efciency tuned single-ended switching
power ampliers, Solid-State Circuits, IEEE Journal of, vol. 10, no. 3, pp. 168176, Jun

This paper provides a detailed analysis and design of class-E amplifier based on a load network which
is synthesized to give a transient response which achieves maximum power efficiency even if the
device switching time is an appreciable fraction of the A.C. cycle. It further explains the reason for
limitations on efficiency of switching amplifiers (Push-pull, Class-D). The switches in these
amplifiers suffers from simultaneous transition leading to high switching losses and possibility of
transistor destruction by second breakdown. The novel principle of tuned power amplifier is to avoid
substantial voltage as well as substantial current through the switch during switching by designing the
load network in a way to synthesize an optimal transient response, so as to eliminate the switching
losses in device, thus improving the efficiency of the amplifier.

A. N. Laskovski, M. R. Yuce, and T. Dissanayake, Stacked spirals for use in biomedical

implants, Asia Pacic Microwave Conference, 2009. APMC 2009., pp. 389 392, 2009

In this paper author has proposed a new transmission coil designed for wireless power transfer in
biomedical implants. As a result of trend to miniaturize the implantable device, inductive links are
designed to operate at higher frequencies so that spatial requirements of internal coils can be reduced.
Two types of inductive coil design a). Planar Archimedean spirals b). Cylindrical helix coils are
available. Planar Archimedean spirals generates strong magnetic coupling between two coils but have
large spatial requirements whereas cylindrical helix coils have smaller spatial requirements but
generates weak magnetic coupling. This requires the consideration of a trade-off between a larger
spiral coil with a stronger magnetic field pattern, and a smaller cylindrical helix coil with a weaker

magnetic field pattern. One possible solution to this problem is to create one larger spiral as a
combination of several smaller spirals which are connected in series and stacked on top of each other,
summing to equal the equivalent larger inductance value and ensuring that the flux lines of each layer
point in the same direction. The advantages of stacking spirals are, it greatly reduces the SRF of an
implanted coil such that frequency of operation is decreased and range of power transmission is
increased. Also low frequency helps in to reduce the unnecessary amount of power absorbed by
human tissues. Spiral stacking further increases the overall inductance for a given space which allows
more energy to be transmitted or received by these coils.

H. Lim, Y. Yoon, C. Lee, I. Park, B. Song, and J. Cho, Implementation of a transcutaneous

charger for fully implantable middle ear hearing device, Engineering in Medicine and
Biology Society, 2005. IEEE-EMBS 2005. 27th Annual International Conference of the, pp.
68136816, Jan 2005.

In this paper author has demonstrated the ability of a charger to supply sufficient energy to charge an
implanted battery within about 10 mm of distance as well as ability of implanted module to transmit
information about the state of battery. The proposed transcutaneous charger employs spiral inductor
design. The LC resonance is used at each coil to transfer sufficient power to internal device. External
device was affected by secondary coils impedance. To monitor the status of implanted battery,
changing the state of secondary coil by using a switch, current variations corresponding to internal
impedance of the secondary coil can be detected using peak detection. Using the result, several data
such as battery capacity, system error, coupling between coils will be able to transmit from implanted
module to outer device. Therefore, it is expected that the proposed transcutaneous charger can
monitor the state of implanted module.