Posted on Sep 29, 2018, 12 a.m.
An Implantable biofuel powered sensor has been developed by researchers at Washington State University that runs on sugar and can monitor biological signals within the body to help detect, prevent, and diagnose diseases, as published in the IEEE Translations of Circuits and Systems journal.
Researchers have demonstrated a unique integration of the biofuel cell with electronics to process physiological and biochemical signals with high sensitivity. Humans carry a lot of fuel within bodily fluids through blood glucose or lactate around the skin and mouth, using biofuel cells opens paths to using the body as potential fuel. The biofuel cell is completely non-toxic making it more promising as an implant and more stable and sensitive than conventional biofuel cells.
Most popular sensors are watches or patches worn on the skin which are superficial and can’t be embedded. This sensor could also remove the need to prick a finger for testing in certain diseases. Electronics in this sensor use state of the art design and fabrication to use only a few microwatts of power while being highly sensitive, coupled with the biofuel cells it makes a more efficient sensor than traditional battery powered devices. The sensor runs on glucose, meaning it could be powered indefinitely, as example running on sugar produced just under the skin.
Researchers suggest that the sensor could be manufactures cheaply through mass production. The sensor has been lab tested, but the researchers are working on further improvements such as increasing power output to the biofuel cells, and wanting to demonstrate the sensors in blood capillaries which requires regulatory approval.
Materials provided by Washington State University.
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Huan Hu, Tanzila Islam, Alla Kostyukova, Su Ha, Subhanshu Gupta. From Battery Enabled to Natural Harvesting: Enzymatic BioFuel Cell Assisted Integrated Analog Front-End in 130nm CMOS for Long-Term Monitoring. IEEE Transactions on Circuits and Systems I: Regular Papers, 2018; 1 DOI: 10.1109/TCSI.2018.2869343