A Binghamton engineer, Seokheun "Sean" Choi, developed an inexpensive, bacteria-powered battery made from paper. Using a drop of bacteria-containing liquid, the battery generates power from microbial respiration and delivers enough energy to run a paper-based biosensor.

The cheap, biodegradable technology uses capillary force and does not require external pumps and syringes. The battery could therefore be useful to users working in remote areas with limited resources. Because paper is inexpensive and readily available, many disease-control experts have seized upon it as a key material in creating diagnostic tools for the developing world.

The battery, which folds into a square the size of a matchbook, uses an inexpensive air-breathing cathode created with nickel sprayed onto one side of ordinary office paper. The anode is screen-printed with carbon paints, creating a hydrophilic zone with wax boundaries.

Current paper-based biosensors must be paired with hand-held devices for analysis. Choi, however, envisions a self-powered system in which a paper-based battery would create enough energy to run the biosensor.


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