Researchers from Georgia Tech and Korea University have demonstrated a new biological fuel cell that incorporates gold nanoparticles on carbon fibres to convert sugars into electricity. Assistant Professor Seung Woo Lee said,
“We could use this device as a continuous power source for converting chemical energy from glucose in the body to electrical energy.”
Combined with energy storage in supercapacitors or mini-batteries, such a fuel cell device could power a new generation of ultra-longevity medical implants.
Existing pacemaker batteries achieve a decade or so of performance, requiring explantation and replacement, but biofuel cells might generate power for a patient’s entire lifespan. The high porosity of cotton provides advantages over manmade nylon fibres, and there appears to be a biocompatibility advantage for natural fibres. Gold particles of 8nm diameter yielded highly effective nano-electrodes of up to 3.7mW/cm2. Results were published last week in Nature Communications.
This story is featured in the 23 November 2018 edition of The Warren Centre’s Prototype newsletter. Sign up for the Prototype here.