Researchers from the University of Connecticut and UCLA have developed a novel bio-friendly energy storage system. It is called supercapacitor and it operates using charged ions or particles from fluids present in a human body. This device, as per researchers, will pose no threat to the body’s biological systems, and it could results in longer-lasting pacemakers for cardiac patients and other implantable medical devices.
The team of researchers from UCLA was led by Richard Kaner, who is a distinguished professor of material science and engineering, and chemistry and biochemistry. The team from Connecticut on the other hand was led by James Rusling, who is a professor of cell biology and chemistry. The paper on their novel design was published earlier this week in the journal of Advanced Energy Materials.
What is the Inspiration behind the Research?
Implantable devices such as pacemakers, which help in regulating abnormal heart rhythms and others have provided a new lease of life to millions around the world over the last few years. However, a majority of these devices are powered using traditional batteries, which eventually give up on running out power and are replaced, which means another painful surgery for the patient, besides the associated risk of infection. Moreover, these batteries contain toxic material, which could endanger a patient’s life if it leaks.
Alternate Method of Generating Energy from Human Body Proposed by Researchers
The researchers therefore proposed an alternate method of enabling these devices get the required energy. The supercapacitors invested by them are charged using electrolytes, which are collected from biological fluids such as urine and blood serum. These capacitors will also work with an energy harvester, which will convert heat and motion generated from a human body into electricity. Combining supercapacitors with energy harvesters will provide endless power to keep an implantable device running for a lifetime. With the novel technology, the need to replace implantable device will perhaps get eliminated in the future.