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MIT engineers have developed a glucose energy source that can power miniature implants and sensors

MIT engineers have developed a glucose energy source that can power miniature implants and sensors

Powering medical implants can be challenging, but using your own body's energy as a fuel source can keep them working for a long time.
A new tiny fuel cell design converts glucose into electricity to power implants more efficiently than any other technology known so far.AdvertisementThis silicon chip contains dozens of glucose fuel cells, which can be seen as small silver squares.
Kent DaytonDevices like pacemakers can last for decades, so they need a constant power supply, and running cables through a patient's skin is not the best solution.
Embedded batteries might be some compromise, but replacing them requires surgery.
Even with new advances in wireless charging, batteries take up too much space in devices that need to be as compact and lightweight as possible.Ideally, implants should be equipped with devices capable of generating their own energy, and what could be a more efficient energy source than our own cells? Glucose fuel cells, which convert the chemical energy of sugar in the blood into electricity, have been developed for decades, but they still have many drawbacks.
Perhaps with the new device, developed by researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Technical University of Munich, a solution to this problem can be found.The structure of the new fuel cell is almost identical to existing batteries and consists of an anode, electrolyte and cathode.
The anode reacts with the glucose in the body fluids to produce gluconic acid, releasing two protons and two electrons.
The electrolyte carries the protons away, where they mix with air and turn into harmless water molecules.
And the flow of electrons creates an electric current, which is used to power the implanted device.Typically, electrolytes in glucose fuel cells are made of polymers, but for their device the researchers used ceramics containing cerium dioxide, a strong, stable material that passes protons well and is used for the same purpose in hydrogen fuel cells.
The electrodes were made of platinum, which actively interacts with glucose.The researchers made about 150 tiny fuel cells (about 300 micrometers wide and 400 nanometers thick).
The scientists placed the cells on silicon wafers, proving that the devices could be combined with conventional semiconductor materials.
They then measured the current produced by each cell by applying a glucose solution to the wafer.The fuel cells produced a peak voltage of about 80 millivolts, corresponding to about 43 microwatts per square centimeter.
The team says this is the highest power density of any glucose-based fuel cell created to date, and more than enough to power implantable devices.In addition to the high power output, the ceramic material provides a longer life span and allows it to withstand high temperatures during sterilization.
According to the developers, \"thin-film coatings could be created on the basis of such cells, which would also wrap implants in them, thus providing them with reliable power.
\"The work was published in the Journal Advanced Materials.Sources: MIT, Journal Advanced Materials.(https://news.mit.edu/2022/glucose-fuel-cell-electricity-0512) (https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/adma.202109075) The post is rewardedThis material was written by a website visitor, and it is rewarded.

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