Medical implants – think pacemakers and the like – are getting more commonplace, and that trend is likely to continue. But as any gadget-hound will know, tech needs juice to keep running… and you don’t really want to have to keep digging out a device from inside your body so you can swap out the batteries, do you? Of course you don’t… which is why the University of Frieburg’s research into biological fuel cells powered by the host’s blood sugar is a promising development.
They are looking into the use noble metal catalysts, such as platinum, to trigger a continuous electrochemical reaction between glucose in the blood and oxygen from the surrounding tissue fluid. The use of platinum (or a similar metal) would be ideal, as the material exhibits long-term stability, it can be sterilized, and electrodes made from it wouldn’t be sensitive to unwanted chemical reactions, including hydrolysis and oxidation.
The Freiburg scientists are ultimately hoping that the surfaces of implants could be covered with a thin coating of the fuel cells, which would then power the devices indefinitely.
Medical uses are all well and good, of course, but there’s a whole bunch of other cyborg gubbins that could use the same power-source. Book your combat hardening and sousveillance countermeasure systems implant appointments today!
[ Yeah, yeah, I know. Puns don’t kill people; people kill people. ]