Engineers Design First Ion-current Battery Bio-Compatible to Treat Diseases

Published Date : Jul 25, 2017

In what may seem as an innovation in the design of bio-compatible batteries, engineers at the University of Maryland (UMD) have made a major breakthrough that could help develop next-generation medical devices for the disabled populations. A team of researchers led by Liangbing Hu, a scientist at the UMD, have developed a new battery technology that can deliver ionic flow to bio-systems and interface with them to act as advanced therapeutic devices.

The work detailing the technology was published in the July 24, 2017 issue of the prominent journal ‘Nature Communications’. The study was funded by the United States Department of Energy.

New Battery Set to Advance Clinical Applications and Biomedical Researches

Since living systems primarily use ion-based electrical energy, these batteries can micro-manipulate a range of neuronal interactions in human beings. This can prove helpful in treating diseases such as Alzheimer's and depression, opined one of the researchers. In addition, the technology can have vast potential for improving the delivery mechanism of genes and therapies in clinical applications and biomedical researches, thereby advancing therapeutics for the treatment of various cancer types.

Reversing Traditional Technology is Key to Designing UMD Battery

The technology invented at the UMD has typically reversed the design of traditional battery. Instead of generating electrons using the flow of ions from one electrode to the other in a conventional battery, the new UMD device enables the movement of electrons through the metal wires to generate energy in the form of ionic flow through the ionic cables. Engineers used grass fibers, soaked in lithium salt solution, to act as ionic cables to store the energy.

The design of the ionic current battery that can run at any voltage was necessary to achieve the bio-compatibility of the electronic flow of the battery and the ionic current of living systems.