Scientists are working on biological fuel cells, that could be used to power medical implants using the patient's own blood sugar (Image: Yale Rosen)
While there’s no denying that implantable medical devices such as pacemakers save peoples’ lives, powering those implants is still a tricky business. The batteries in a standard pacemaker, for instance, are said to last for about eight years – after that, surgery is required to access the device. Implants such as heart pumps are often powered by batteries that can be recharged from outside the body, but these require a power cord that protrudes through the patient’s skin, and that keeps them from being able to swim or bathe. Now, however, scientists at Germany’s University of Freiburg are developing biological fuel cells, that could draw power for implants from the patient’s own blood sugar.
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