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MIT engineers develop glucose-based fuel cell to be used in neural implants

Sarah Silbert
06.13.12
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We've seen fuel cells used in a variety of gadgets -- from cars to portable chargers -- and while medical devices aren't exactly at the top of the list, they're yet another application for these mini power sources. MIT engineers are turning to sugar to make fuel cells for powering brain implants. The scientists developed cells that use platinum to strip electrons from glucose molecules found in a patient's cerebrospinal fluid to create a small electric current. The fuel cells are fabricated on a silicon chip so they can interface with other circuits in a brain implant. The prototype can generate up to hundreds of micro watts, which is enough to power neural implants used to help paralyzed patients move their limbs. Mind you, this technology is years away from making it to market. The next step will be proving that the devices work in animals, which reminds us of one Ricky the rat, who survived a biofuel cell implant back in 2010.

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