This silicon wafer consists of glucose fuel cells of varying sizes; the largest is 64 by 64 mm (Photo: Sarpeshkar Lab)
A new implantable fuel cell that harvests the electrical power from the brain promises to usher in a new generation of bionic implants. Designed by MIT researchers, it uses glucose within the cerebrospinal fluid surrounding the brain to generate several hundred microwatts of power without causing any detrimental effects to the body. The technology may one day provide a whole new level of reliability and self-efficiency for all sorts of implantable brain-machine interfaces that would otherwise have to rely on external power sources. If proven harmless, the method could be used to power implants that could, among other things, help the paralyzed regain the ability to walk.