Wearable devices are already part of many people’s bodies. Now, and to respond to new challenges, a group of scientists has succeeded in creating an edible stack.
Currently, there are many devices that monitor people's daily lives, namely in terms of health parameters. The vast majority act outside the body and manage to deliver a very complete set of information.
But, considering the challenges the future may hold, the ideal may actually be edible devices – electronics that can be ingested, decomposed and consumed after they have served their function. They are a recent scientific field, but there are already encouraging results.
Since the purpose is to ingest them, their construction cannot depend on toxic materials. Therefore, those commonly used in electronic devices, such as silicon, magnesium and copper, are not an option as they are only safe in very low doses.
Electronics meets new path
To team of Mario Caironicoordinator of the Printed and Molecular Electronics laboratory at the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT), managed to develop a stack, which integrates only edible components.
A battery works because of a current of electrons, which flows from the electrode where they are emitted – the anode – to the one that captures them – the cathode. As a reaction possible with food, researchers tried to study these processes to find an anode - vitamin B12, found in almonds - and a cathode - quercetin, found in capers.
In addition, batteries need an electrolyte that allows electrons to circulate. In this case, the researchers used water and added activated carbon to increase electrical conductivity. Then, to avoid possible short circuits, the researchers used nori seaweed, which is used to make sushi, and finally they created an envelope in beeswax and attached two contacts of edible gold to the outside.
Edible pile can serve several purposes
The scientists who developed this edible battery believe that it can be used in toys, for example. This is because ingesting batteries, although dangerous, is common, and integrating your new alternative can avoid many problems.
Moreover, it can be used in the diagnosis of digestive diseases, in a very non-invasive way, since it only consists of the ingestion of the device that, after handling the case, can be digested, as well as the introduction of medication to release. them in body zones and specific moments.
This edible cell is also very interesting for energy storage. Building safer batteries, without the use of toxic materials, is a challenge we face as the demand for batteries increases. Although our edible batteries won't power electric cars, they are proof that batteries can be made from safer materials than current lithium-ion batteries. We believe they will inspire other scientists to build safer batteries for a truly sustainable future.
Says Ivan Ilic, co-author of the study.