Glucose fuel cell that powers medical implants

MIT scientists have created a glucose fuel cell that is small and powerful enough to use the sugar present in the blood to power medical implants. Ultra-thin devices rely on ceramic materials as electrolytes and platinum anodes / cathodes. Researchers can place more than 150 fuel cells on the chip, and each fuel cell produces a peak voltage of about 80 millivolts when the glucose solution passes through, a range of power requirements for many embedded devices. I placed it inside.

Implantable medical technology invites us towards a whole new world of real-time health monitoring and advanced treatment. From diabetes to neuromodulation, the potential uses are almost endless. However, there is always the complication of powering such implants.

The battery will eventually run out of charge and will need to be removed and replaced, but the wires that penetrate the skin are awkward and pose an obvious risk of infection. Wireless charging technology is an alternative, but for the most part it is still in its infancy and may require an external charging device that is worn on the skin.

A custom experimental setup used to characterize 30 glucose fuel cells in a rapid sequence.

This state-of-the-art technology aims to draw power from our own body, especially from glucose in our blood, avoiding the need for batteries, wires, or external chargers. “Glucose is everywhere in the body. The researcher involved in this study, Philip Simmons, aims to harvest this out-of-the-box energy and use it to power implantable devices. “Our work shows the electrochemical of new glucose fuel cells.”

The new device is incredibly thin at 400 nanometers, which is about one-hundredth the diameter of human hair. Interestingly, fuel cells are extremely heat resistant and can withstand up to 600 degrees Celsius without damage, so they can be sterilized using heat prior to transplantation.

The electrolyte for new fuel cells is made of ceramic and is made from a material called ceria, which has the advantages of mechanical stability, biocompatibility and ionic conductivity, and is already widely used in hydrogen fuel cells. “Ceria is being actively studied in the cancer research community,” says Simons. “It’s similar to zirconia used in dental implants, it’s biocompatible and safe.”

Study at Advanced material: Ceramic electrolyte glucose fuel cell for embedded electronic devices

Via: MIT Glucose fuel cell that powers medical implants

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