Researchers have designed a biocompatible battery inspired by the electrical organ of the eels, which produce 110 volts. And that’s more than enough to power small medical devices. American researchers have been inspired by the electrical system of the eels (Electrophorus electricus), commonly called “electric eel”. Researchers have been able to develop a biocompatible and self-sufficient energy source for implantable devices.
This newly discovered power source could be used to power medical devices such as pacemakers or implantable sensors
The prototype reproduces the electric organ of the eel fish. It is a flexible and transparent patch power source that can be easily connected to medical devices.
To defend themselves, or to attack, the eels are able to produce electric shocks up to 600 volts. Such a powerful electric current is generated thanks to specialized cells that are found on the entire length of eels’ bodies.
Controlled by the fish’s nervous system, these cells produce sodium ions while they’re releasing potassium ions. Each cell produced by this circulation of electrically charged elements has a low voltage.
Researchers have reproduced the exact eels’ system to create a power source so small it can be easily used to power medical devices such as pacemakers or other implantable devices.
Eels’ electrical system was hard to replicate
Four different types of hydrogel were needed to replicate the eels’ ion circulation.
And, as in the eels cases, scientists had to mount several of these cells on a plastic film to increase the production of electricity. They’ve managed to produce a voltage of 110 volts.
“In theory, this is enough to run energy-efficient devices like pacemakers,” says one of the study’s authors, a chemist at the University of Michigan.
But ideally would be to reproduce the same eels’ mechanism using the fluids of the human body, in order to create a self-charging accumulator.
Hopefully, the researchers will eventually create a viable self-charging power source to power implantable devices.