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Self Powered Bio-Implants: MIT Develops Glucose Fuel-Cell

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posted on Jun, 13 2012 @ 09:30 PM

I just found this story and thought that it would make for interesting discussion. MIT has developed a fuel cell that uses platinum to strip electrons from glucose to provide electricity....

The new twist to the MIT fuel cell described in PLoS ONE is that it is fabricated from silicon, using the same technology used to make semiconductor electronic chips. The fuel cell has no biological components: It consists of a platinum catalyst that strips electrons from glucose, mimicking the activity of cellular enzymes that break down glucose to generate ATP, the cell’s energy currency. So far, the fuel cell can generate up to hundreds of microwatts — enough to power an ultra-low-power and clinically useful neural implant.

The idea of a glucose fuel cell is not new: In the 1970s, scientists showed they could power a pacemaker with a glucose fuel cell, but the idea was abandoned in favor of lithium-ion batteries, which could provide significantly more power per unit area than glucose fuel cells. These glucose fuel cells also utilized enzymes that proved to be impractical for long-term implantation in the body, since they eventually ceased to function efficiently.

This also interesting because there has been a bit of a race afoot concerning making this sort of technology work. Enzymatic bio-fuel cells have been around for a while and that is where Japan had been concentrating their efforts. There was also research being done on tiny turbines in the bloodstream as well as yeast driven fuel cells. But it looks like good old MIT has sprinted ahead in the race.

Imagining the applications for this is fun. You can read about many of them at the original story linked above. All sorts of implants will be powered by these devices.

I think it is also interesting that the Sodium Potassium pump that runs, say, our muscle cells, runs on microvoltage and how this tech might be applied there.

Or how about as docking stations for nanobots?

And then of course there are the cyborgs; you know this will take the military to places that have only been dreamt of in William Gibson novels...

The Department of Defense is planning to implant microchips in soldiers’ brains for monitoring their health information, and has already awarded a $1.6 million contract to the Center for Bioelectronics, Biosensors and Biochips (C3B) at Clemson University for the development of an implantable “biochip”.

Further reading on that.

Pretty exciting stuff.


edit on 13-6-2012 by Xoanon because: .

posted on Jun, 13 2012 @ 09:35 PM
Does this mean that the venerable Mint Julep can now be considered brain food?

I hope so!

posted on Jun, 13 2012 @ 09:46 PM
How do you share these threads on Facebook?
People I know need to hear this.

posted on Jun, 13 2012 @ 09:56 PM
reply to post by PunchingBag80

Looks like there is a button on the top of the thread. I have never pushed it myself though.


posted on Jun, 13 2012 @ 10:15 PM
reply to post by Xoanon

Terribly interesting from a diabetics point of view.
If this thing can convert glucose to energy, can they install a blood glucose monitor and power it by said glucose?
Hope for diabetics??
Naaaaw this crap will dissappear soon...

posted on Jun, 13 2012 @ 10:27 PM
reply to post by Xoanon

It sends you to this place that is facebook and ATS combined and they have some recent threads. Yet, thay tend to leave some threads out, that are very recent....I find that odd.

posted on Jun, 14 2012 @ 12:15 AM
Just copy the URL at the top (the "www."thing) and paste it in a comment or facebook message and the evil facebook machine will do the rest for you ^ ^

posted on Jun, 14 2012 @ 01:09 AM
reply to post by JaxCavalera

I never type in the 666...

posted on Jun, 14 2012 @ 08:54 AM
Jumping straight into implanting into the brain seems a bit premature.

What if they were used to fuel nanocomputers that controlled a human-computer interface sensorium?

posted on Jun, 14 2012 @ 09:11 AM
reply to post by SibylofErythrae

Bam. My very first thought upon reading this thread was to recall the article a friend forwarded to me a few days back.

Such prosthetics might work with a pair of eyeglasses that contain a webcam. The camera would then relay information to a chip in the person's brain to activate the "mind's eye", the part of the brain known as the "occipital lobe" or the visual cortex.

In a study, published in Neuroscience, the team -- which is focused on repairing disorders of the brain and nervous system -- managed to stimulate the brain to create the illusion of a flash of light called a "phosphene". They used tiny electrical charges to stimulate the occitipal lobe in order to fool the brain into perceiving things that aren't there. Currently researchers can only generate one flash at a time -- many more would be needed in order to create meaningful images. The team estimates that twenty-seven of so simultaneous flashes might allow participants to see the outline of a letter

Where this could go (aside from the obvious and rad medical applications): a GUI you can see and interact with mentally- might ideally operate as an overlay of adjustable size and opacity over the field of vision. In other words, it wouldn't hijack the visual cortex to the extent that input from the eye is blocked.

edit on 14-6-2012 by Eidolon23 because: Mm.

posted on Jun, 14 2012 @ 09:22 AM
Nanobiology is another field to keep an eye on, particularly as cellular processes being harnessed for fuel will apply. And could get funky if the bio-nano fusion is subject to stuff like mutation or environmental pressures (particularly if human beings are the host environment).

Nanobiology, as a field of study, signifies the merger of biological research with nanotechnologies such as nanodevices, nanoparticles, or unique nanoscale phenomena. Although molecular biologists have been working with nano-sized biomolecules for the last few decades, nanobiology was not defined as a discipline until researchers started making a focused effort to use our knowledge of nanotechnology to tackle biological problems.

He predicted that the Holy Grail of simply mixing biochemicals and organic salts to create a computer will occur in the 20 to 50 year timeframe.

edit on 14-6-2012 by Eidolon23 because:

posted on Jun, 14 2012 @ 10:21 AM

At least that’s the idea of one group of MIT researchers, who are working with Pentagon funding to create fluid, lifelike, neurally mediated prosthetic limbs. They’ve already designed the brain-implant portion of such a prosthetic, which is meant to interface with the brain’s neurons and communicate those signals to the artificial limb. Now they’ve come up with novel new fuel cells to power that implant … by squeezing energy out of the patient’s own spinal fluid.

We demonstrate computationally that the natural recirculation of cerebrospinal fluid around the human brain theoretically permits glucose energy harvesting at a rate on the order of at least 1 mW with no adverse physiologic effects. Low-power brain–machine interfaces can thus potentially benefit from having their implanted units powered or recharged by glucose fuel cells.

What this fails to address is if this "harvesting" of cerebral fluid glucose will have any impact on the function of the brain which is already very metabolically demanding.

Resurrect a couple of neanderthal mtDNA lines, plunk in some modern human nuclear DNA and see if it gives the excess metabolic requirements?

I'd really think that there would be much better acceptance of a sensorium suit than of brain implants and cerebral fluid lubrication.
edit on 14-6-2012 by SibylofErythrae because: (no reason given)

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