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Novel Biological Sources for Implantable Battery Materials

Where will the next source of electrode materials for batteries to power edible medical devices come from? Would you believe, from marine cuttlefish? Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA, say that melanin pigments in cuttlefish ink provides the perfect chemistry and nanostructure to power tiny electronic devices that can be either ingested or implanted into the body for applications ranging from biosensing to drug delivery.

The researchers say that naturally occurring melanins exhibit higher charge storage capacity compared to other synthetic melanin derivatives when used as anode materials. Pigment-based anodes are an important component in sodium-ion batteries.

At present, high-performance energy storage systems for medical devices are designed to supply power to semi-permanent devices that are often encapsulated. These scenarios permit the use of potentially toxic electrode materials and electrolytes. Electronically active medical devices that are either biodegradable or ingestible require new energy storage materials that are benign and can operate in hydrated environments.

Alternative systems using biocompatible electrode materials with aqueous sodium-ion batteries could provide energy for a variety of temporary medical devices, including biodegradable electronic implants and ingestible systems.

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