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Biotech Medicine Power Hardware Science

MIT Creates Glucose Fuel Cell To Power Implanted Brain-Computer Interfaces 95

MrSeb writes "Neuroengineers at MIT have created an implantable fuel cell that generates electricity from the glucose present in the cerebrospinal fluid that flows around your brain and spinal cord. The glucose-powered fuel cell is crafted out of silicon and platinum, using standard semiconductor fabrication processes. The platinum acts as a catalyst, stripping electrons from glucose molecules, similar to how aerobic animal cells (such as our own) strip electrons from glucose with enzymes and oxygen. The glucose fuel cell produces hundreds of microwatts (i.e. tenths of a milliwatt), which is a surprisingly large amount — it comparable to the solar cell on a calculator, for example. This should be more than enough power to drive complex computers — or perhaps more interestingly, trigger clusters of neurons in the brain. In theory, this glucose fuel cell will actually deprive your brain of some energy, though in practice you probably won't notice (or you might find yourself growing hungry sooner)."
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MIT Creates Glucose Fuel Cell To Power Implanted Brain-Computer Interfaces

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @06:50PM (#40315881)

    Could this lower your blood sugar?

  • Unanswered Questions (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bughunter ( 10093 ) <bughunter@earthlin k . net> on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @07:02PM (#40316025) Journal

    TFA leaves some important questions unanswered.

    What is the byproduct/waste product of the glucose after it's been harvested of its electrons? What are the effects of these byproducts in the CSF?

    If there is significant glucose in the CSF as TFA states, why is it there? What effects could its depletion cause? How fast is it replenished? Is this fast enough to provide adequate continuous power for a [cochlear implant|pacemaker|mathcoprocessor|frikkin'laser]?

    I'm not opposed to cybernetic implants powered by the beer and pizza I already consume, but I sure want to know that the researchers and engineers did their homework first.

  • by Brad1138 ( 590148 ) <> on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @07:17PM (#40316213)
    I have seen this coming for a while. Implantable computers, now with internal power supply, Google glasses, thought recognition. The Star trek vision of the Borg, though crude and ugly, may have not been far off the mark. Smart phones may already be making us dumber []. It is scary to think where this will lead.

Science is what happens when preconception meets verification.