MIT develops ultra-thin fuel cells that can generate electricity using only the body’s own sugar
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MIT develops ultra-thin fuel cells that can generate electricity using only the body’s own sugar.
As we all know, glucose is a type of sugar that the body absorbs from food.
It is the source of energy for every cell in our body.
But through the tireless efforts of scientists, it may one day power medical implants as well.
Engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the Technical University of Munich have designed a new type of glucose-powered battery that converts glucose directly into electricity.
The research results were recently published in the journal Advanced Materials.
The device is reported to be smaller than other proposed glucose fuel cells, only 400 nanometers thick, about 1/100 the diameter of a human hair.
And it can generate about 43 microwatts of electricity per square centimeter, which is the highest power density to date for a glucose fuel cell under current ambient conditions.
In addition, the new device is also resilient, able to withstand temperatures of up to 600 degrees Celsius.
This high heat resistance, if integrated into medical implants, would allow the power battery to remain stable during high-temperature sterilization processes suitable for all implanted devices.
The core of the new device is made of ceramic, a material that maintains its electrochemical properties even at high temperatures and at microscopic dimensions.
The researchers envision that the new design could be made into an ultrathin film, or coating, that wraps around the implant, harnessing the body’s plentiful supply of glucose to power electronics.
“Glucose is ubiquitous in the body, and the idea is to harvest this readily available energy and use it to power implantable devices,” says Philipp Simons.
He developed the design at MIT’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering (DMSE) as part of his doctoral dissertation. “In our work, we demonstrate the electrochemistry of a new glucose fuel cell.”
“Batteries generally take up 90% of the volume of an implant, and now you can make a device with a thin film, and you’ll have a power source that doesn’t take up space.” Simons’ thesis advisor, DMSE visiting professor, solid-state at the Technical University of Munich, Germany said Jennifer LM Rupp, associate professor of electrolyte chemistry.
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