Scientists continue to make advances in electronics that can safely monitor and control our health from within the body. Unfortunately, working with these mini medical instruments is not always easy.
But now there is a new type of rechargeable battery that can help in this matter. It is made from edible material and can dissolve safely in the stomach once you do what you need to do.
The prototype device shown in the new study operates at a harmless 0.65 volts and delivers 48 microamps for 12 minutes, well within the range required to power small electronic devices.
“Potential applications in the future range from food chains and sensors that can monitor sanitary conditions, to powering sensors to monitor food storage conditions,” says senior author Mario Caironi, a molecular electronics researcher at the Italian Institute of Technology. These batteries can be used in children’s toys as there is a high risk of swallowing.
Developed from a diverse list of ingredients, this is the first functional rechargeable battery to be served as a snack. Its ingredients include the vitamin riboflavin for the battery’s anode (“negative” end) and quercetin supplements as the cathode (“positive” end). The electrolyte (which generates an electrical charge) is made from a water-based solution, and the separator (which prevents short circuits) is made from nori paper, the name for seaweed found in sushi restaurants.
Often used to treat poisoning, activated charcoal is included to increase electrical conductivity, and the outer contacts that carry electricity to another device are made of beeswax combined with decorative food grade gold.
The battery retains its charge for dozens of cycles, although it must be outside the body to recharge. The prototype created here is about a square centimeter (0.155 square inches), but the team is already working on making it smaller.
“In fact, we are already developing devices with more capacity while reducing overall dimensions. These developments will also be tested with soft edible robots in the future,” says Caironi.
And if you’ve ever had a camera or other interconnected device inside of you, you know that these scans, while critical in detecting diseases, aren’t the most convenient. And that’s one area where this edible battery can help.
The devices can be used to check that food is safe and compliant while it is already in the gut, before the monitor is digested along with the food.
All this is still a long way off, but prototype researchers hope their work will lead to further developments in the field, such as using larger batteries for energy storage and electric vehicles.
“While our edible batteries do not power electric vehicles, they are proof that batteries can be made from safer materials than current lithium-ion batteries,” says study co-author Evan Elek, a sustainable energy storage scientist at the Italian Technological Institute. institute. We believe this will inspire other scientists to develop safer batteries for a truly sustainable future.”
The study is published in Advanced Materials.
Source: Science Alert