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A flexible battery that is powered by sweat

26 September 2019

A flexible and extensible battery, adhering to the skin, is capable of producing electrical energy by transforming compounds present in perspiration.

Studies of mechanical and electrochemical resistance of the biopile at 20% stretching in 2D direction. © Xiaohong Chen, Department of Molecular Chemistry (CNRS / Université Grenoble Alpes)

The unique and patented device has been developed by researchers from the CNRS, University Grenoble Alpes and the University of San Diego (USA). 

This battery can already light an LED continuously, opening up new perspectives for the development of portable electronics powered by autonomous bio-devices and being environmentally friendly. This work is published in Advanced Functional Materials on September 25, 2019.

Interest in portable electronic devices continues to grow, especially for medical and sports surveillance. These devices require the development of a reliable and efficient energy source that can be easily integrated into the human body. Using "biofuels" in human body fluids has long been a promising avenue.

Scientists from the Department of Molecular Chemistry (CNRS/Université Grenoble Alpes), specialists in bioelectrochemistry, decided to collaborate with an American team from the University of San Diego in California, expert in nanomachines, biosensors and nanobioelectronics. They have developed a flexible conductive fabric composed of carbon nanotubes, crosslinking polymer and enzymes, interconnected by extensible connectors directly printed, by screen printing, on the fabric.

This biopile, which follows the deformation of the skin, produces electrical energy by reducing the oxygen and by oxidation of the lactate present in the perspiration. After its adhesion on the arm of an individual, it is able, via the connection of a voltage amplifier, to light an LED continuously. Its manufacture is relatively simple and inexpensive, the main cost being related to the production of enzymes that transform the components of sweat. Researchers' efforts are now focused on amplifying the voltage provided by the biopile in order to successfully power larger portable devices.




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