18:02 03 April 2017
Researchers from MIT and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in the United States have developed an electronic device that can be ingested and is powered by stomach acid. It could be used to run drug delivery devices for extended periods and could lead to novel ways of monitoring patient health and treating disease.
The researchers were inspired by a so-called lemon battery, a simple voltaic cell consisting of two electrodes stuck in the lemon powered by citric acid. Replicating this strategy, the researchers attached zinc and copper electrodes to the surface of the ingestible sensor. The zinc emits ions into the acid into the stomach. Researchers are now looking for ways to miniaturise the device, which currently measures about 40 millimeters long and 12 millimeters in diameter.
MIT postdoc Phillip Nadeau, lead author of a paper on the work, said: “You could have a self-powered pill that would monitor your vital signs from inside for a couple of weeks, and you don’t even have to think about it. It just sits there making measurements and transmitting them to your phone,”