Research Highlights

Dental braces that light up

Published online 8 November 2017

This biocompatible micro-battery can power up implantable dental braces.

Biplab Das

Aging and disease can influence the structure, and affect the function of bone structures such as teeth. The latest technologies in implantable devices promise to change this reality by minimizing damage and helping restore the organs’ make-up and normal activities. However, this usually comes at a price — the batteries that power such devices use corrosive toxic materials that can harm human health. 

Now, a research team from Saudi Arabia has come up with a solution in the form of a flexible, biocompatible micro-battery that can power light-emitting, wearable dental braces.1  

This battery can fit and, by extension, be used in various other wearable and implantable devices. 

Conventional metallic dental braces align and straighten misshapen teeth through pressure – a process that can last from several months to a few years. Dental braces made by the Saudi team, however, contain light-emitting diodes that produce red light, which stimulate bone cell growth, and remodel bone deformity altogether, much faster than their metallic counterparts. 

Besides cutting down treatment period, the new braces come at a lower cost, says team leader Muhammad Mustafa Hussain from the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), Thuwal, Saudi Arabia. 

The micro-battery is non-toxic and wrapped in a protective cover that can limits lithium release, which, in excess, can potentially cause a battery to explode. Currently, the battery can efficiently supply power for two hours, retaining its stability. 

In the next phase of development, the researchers plan to redesign the battery so that it can be wirelessly recharged.


  1. Kutbee, A. T. et al. Flexible and biocompatible high performance solid-state micro-battery for implantable orthodontic system. NPG Flexible Elcetronics. (2017)