Bio-inspired, biocompatible, mechanically flexible electrical power.
Progress towards the integration of technology into living organisms requires electrical power sources that are biocompatible, mechanically flexible, and able to harness the chemical energy available inside biological systems. Conventional batteries were not designed with these criteria in mind. The electric organ of the knifefish Electrophorus electricus (commonly known as the electric eel) is, however, an example of an electrical power source that operates within biological constraints while featuring power characteristics that include peak potential differences of 600 volts and currents of 1 ampere. Here we introduce an electric-eel-inspired power concept that uses gradients of ions between miniature polyacrylamide hydrogel compartments bounded by a repeating sequence of cation- and anion-selective hydrogel membranes. The system uses a scalable stacking or folding geometry that generates 110 volts at open circuit or 27 milliwatts per square metre per gel cell upon simultaneous, self-registered mechanical contact activation of thousands of gel compartments in series while circumventing power dissipation before contact. Unlike typical batteries, these systems are soft, flexible, transparent, and potentially biocompatible. These characteristics suggest that artificial electric organs could be used to power next-generation implant materials such as pacemakers, implantable sensors, or prosthetic devices in hybrids of living and non-living systems.
See our interview at BBC here.
Read our paper here.
- Related publications
An electric-eel-inspired soft power source from stacked hydrogels
Schroeder Thomas B. H., Guha Anirvan, Lamoureux Aaron, VanRenterghem Gloria, Sept David, Shtein Max, Yang Jerry, Mayer Michael
Nature (2017)The Green Lean Amine Machine: Harvesting Electric Power While Capturing Carbon Dioxide from Breath
Kalkus Trevor J., Guha Anirvan, Scholten Philip B.V., Nagornii Dmitrii, Coskun Ali, Ianiro Alessandro, Mayer Michael
Advanced Science (2021)
- Related projects
Projects of GUHA Gogol (Anirvan)
Projects of IANIRO Alessandro
Projects of KALKUS Trevor
Projects of MCGUIRE Melissa