News / Science & Technology

Biobattery Tattoo Turns Sweat Into Energy

A tattoo biosensor (enlarged above) detects lactate levels during exercise; a biobattery using the technology could power electronics. (Joseph Wang, UCSD)
A tattoo biosensor (enlarged above) detects lactate levels during exercise; a biobattery using the technology could power electronics. (Joseph Wang, UCSD)

Related Articles

Video 'Origami Robot' Folds Itself to Life

Scientists at Harvard University's Microrobotics Lab are taking the art of paper folding to a new dimension with origami inspired designs that robots can follow to assemble themselves

One day, the sweat you produce during exercise could power small electronic devices.

Researchers at the University of California San Diego have designed what they’re calling a biobattery in the form of a temporary tattoo.

The battery works by “detecting and responding to lactate,” which is found in sweat. When your body needs more energy because of physical exertion, a process called glycolysis occurs. Glycolysis basically turns sugars into usable energy for the body. A byproduct of this process is lactate.

The biobattery tattoo contains an enzyme that “strips electrons from lactate,” which creates an electrical current. That enzyme was imprinted on tattoo paper to finish the device. While the tattoo is about a centimeter square, the electrodes are only two or three millimeters in size.

"These represent the first examples of epidermal electrochemical biosensing and biofuel cells that could potentially be used for a wide range of future applications," said researcher Joseph Wang in a statement.

Researchers put the tattoos, which cost “a few cents” to make, on the upper arms of several volunteers who exercised on stationary bicycles for half an hour.

More exercise did not mean more power generation, however.

The less fit volunteers actually produced more energy than their fit counterparts. Researchers said this was likely due to the earlier onset of glycolysis and production of lactate in the less fit volunteers.

So far, the current generated has been weak, a mere 70 microwatts per square centimeter of skin. That would not be enough to power a watch. However, researcher Wenzhao Jia  said two or three of the tattoos would probably provide enough power.

"The current produced is not that high, but we are working on enhancing it so that eventually we could power some small electronic devices," said Jia.

Another possibility for the biobatteries would be to put them in clothing which would provide a large surface area, Jia said.

If the researchers are able to make the biobatteries viable, they could offer advantages over conventional batteries in that they charge more quickly, use a renewable source of energy and would not explode or contain toxic chemicals.

The team described the biobatteries at the 248th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society in San Francisco.

Here's a video about the device:

You May Like

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Official Pleased With Ebola Containment Measure

Official says three-day sensitization effort will help reduce infection rate of Ebola disease nationwide More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As the tumult in the Middle East distracts Obama, shifting American focus eastward appears threatened More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’i
X
Jeff Seldin
September 20, 2014 10:28 PM
Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid