Estonian scientist and inventor Mart Min invented several methods and devices for the measurement of electrical impedance - a measurement of how electricity travels through a given material - providing results far more precise and informative than ever before. His measurement methods have been so successful that they are now used in a variety of different ways: from analysing biological tissue to monitoring battery based power supplies, including communication equipment and space satellites.
Inventor: Mart Min, Estonia
Invention: Methods and devices for measurement of electrical bioimpedance
Sector: Electrical machinery, apparatus, energy
Company: Tallinn University of Technology
Mart Min's inventions allow for the high-speed analysis of several biological and chemical materials and structures, as well as technical systems, by using electric signals with sophisticated waveforms to measure electrical impedance in a wide frequency range.
Electrical impedance is a measurement of how electricity travels through a given material. Every tissue and material has different electrical impedance determined by its molecular composition, biological and physical structure, and technological construction.
Though the basic idea is not new, Min's great achievement lies in having developed revolutionary new ways of generating, measuring and analysing these signals, as prior to his new measurement and analysis method, the results were not accurate enough.
One of Min's most important inventions is therefore an entirely new device and method for the measurement of electric bioimpedance, which analyses materials in a simple way by using discrete sampling and numeric processing of signals.
Min's invention uses switch-mode generation and demodulation of signals with both analogue and digital signal processing. In this way, a simple, low-energy device can provide more accurate measurements. The undesirable effects caused by higher odd harmonics in the rectangular wave signals and their effects on the sensitivity of synchronous detectors, are essentially suppressed or eliminated.
The measurement of the bioimpedance of humans and animals has proven useful as a non-invasive method for measuring blood flow and body composition, for example, and it potentially has numerous other important applications in the field of medicine. The measurement method is also used to identify the composition of metals and alloys.
Very few inventors can claim that the fields of application for their inventions range from molecular biology to astronautics. Min's basic method of measuring electrical impedance can be used in cardiac pacemakers to control the pacing rate automatically, to analyse the condition of biological tissue, i.e. blood vessels and tissue transplants, as well as to monitor battery power supplies of medical devices, communication equipment and space satellites to avoid power failure.
With its precise measurement results, the invention has already had a great impact on medical diagnostics, improving the chances of survival of many people around the world, not least through its use in rate adaptive pacemakers.
His invention will also play a key role in the EU FP7 project "SAFEMETAL" to check the authenticity of Euro coins by identifying the metals and alloys used, thereby reducing counterfeiting and preventing damage to the European economy.