UC San Diego researchers create epidermal biofuel cell to power electronics from sweat

August 22, 2017 |

In California, a team of engineers has developed stretchable fuel cells that extract energy from sweat and are capable of powering electronics, such as LEDs and Bluetooth radios. The biofuel cells generate 10 times more power per surface area than any existing wearable biofuel cells. The devices could be used to power a range of wearable devices.

The epidermal biofuel cells are a major breakthrough in the field, which has been struggling with making the devices that are stretchable enough and powerful enough. Engineers from the University of California San Diego were able to achieve this breakthrough thanks to a combination of clever chemistry, advanced materials and electronic interfaces. This allowed them to build a stretchable electronic foundation by using lithography and by using screen-printing to make 3D carbon nanotube-based cathode and anode arrays.

The biofuel cells are equipped with an enzyme that oxidizes the lactic acid present in human sweat to generate current. This turns the sweat into a source of power.

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Category: Research

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