Efficient, implantable batteries

Edit Hook

Batteries are a tool for energy storage that ultimately is discharged to a device. Improving the discharge and storage mechanisms can have substantial benefits for battery design. Cellular level bio-batteries offer fine-grained design control and implementation. Such bio-batteries would only need to be 1/4 inch thick or less to power biomedical implants such as retinal implants and other prostheses. Researchers still need to pin down the proper power source, and are focused on non-toxic power sources that would remove the risks associated with failure inside the human body.

Key Differentiators

Biomedical implants can be substantially hindered by their own supply needs. They are constrained by the need for replacement batteries, as well as space limitations. By developing a more efficient group of batteries, a cell, the battery can shrink. By using bio-compatible energy storage/power production substantial improvements in health and safety, smaller prostheses, and reduced materials could all become possible.

Biomimicry Story

Researchers began explicitly attempting to mimic the groups of cells that give electric eels their shocking capabilities. These electrocytes have inspired the design for an artificial analog that could power biomedical implants. The research began by untangling the biochemistry of eel voltage generation, based on ion channels. Using this as a blueprint, the researchers tested artificial ion channel models for power output and energy conversion. The researchers demonstrated substantial efficiency improvements over the eel’s own system: 28% more electricity and 31% more efficient energy conversion.See also the National Center for the Design of Biomimetic Nanoconductors,  National Institute of Standards and Technology (David LaVan), and the Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering at Yale (Jian Xu).

Challenges Solved

Bio-battery cell design, electricity conversion, electricity discharge efficiency, battery toxicity, battery size.

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