Researchers from UCLA and the University of Connecticut have designed a biological supercapacitor which operates using ions derived from bodily fluids. The team predicts that this work could lead to longer-lasting cardiac pacemakers and other implantable medical devices.

The biosupercapacitor, which features graphene layered with modified human proteins as an electrode, could be used in next-generation implantable devices to speed bone growth, promote healing or stimulate the brain.

Modern pacemakers are typically 6 to 8mm thick, with half of the volume occupied by the battery. The biosupercapacitor is 1µm thick, meaning it can bend and twist inside the body without any mechanical damage, while storing more charge than energy lithium film batteries of comparable size. “Combining energy harvesters with supercapacitors can provide endless power for lifelong implantable devices that may never need to be replaced,” said UCLA researcher.

Earlier this month, researchers from Egypt and the United States reported the creation of ultrathin, biocompatible supercapacitors that can be used as efficient and long-lasting power sources for implantable devices such as pacemakers, brain stimulators and more.

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