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Edible Batteries For Medical Devices Invented

Aug 25, 2016 04:23 AM EDT
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Recently, scientists developed edible batteries to power ingestible devices that may cure diseases in the near future, eliminating the risk of using conventional batteries.

Although ingestible devices are not new, edible batteries that were recently developed by scientists can greatly help in the medical practice and treatment of diseases.

Scientists developed new edible batteries composed of natural materials found on the skin, eyes and hair. The pigments from natural sources are not harmful to the human body even when ingested. These innovative batteries can power ingestible devices such as pacemakers and those used to observe hard-to-reach internal organs. 

"For decades, people have been envisioning that one day, we would have edible electronic devices to diagnose or treat disease," Christopher Bettinger from Carnegie Mellon University said in a statement. "But if you want to take a device every day, you have to think about toxicity issues," Bettinger added.

The ingestible medical devices had been around for almost 20 years. It helps the doctors to observe hard-to-reach areas inside the human body and a vital tool in endoscopies. However, using conventional batteries posed a risk to the system. Identifying the risk paved the way to the development of edible batteries.

Aside from the threat of using conventional batteries in small intricate parts of the human body, the toxic materials found in conventional batteries are also found to be alarming to experts as they pose a risk of contamination. The edible batteries are designed to free the body from any threats coming from the use of conventional batteries.

"The beauty is that by definition an ingestible, degradable device is in the body for no longer than 20 hours or so. Even if you have marginal performance, which we do, that's all you need," professor Christopher Bettinger said in a statement.

The prototype can supply power to a device to up to five milliWatt for 18 hours. That is an ample time to perform medical tasks such as vaccination. Scientists are working to make packaging of the edible batteries to make it easier to ingest and digest inside the stomach.

 

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