Clarkson researchers produce electricity by implanting biofuel cell in living snail
POTSDAM – For the first time, Clarkson University researchers are producing electricity by implanting a biofuel cell in a living snail.
The continuously operating biofuel cell, which is featured in this month’s issues of “Nature” and “Scientific American,” is using the snail's physiologically produced glucose as a fuel.The researchers have been led by Evgeny Katz, the Milton Kerker Chaired Professor of Colloid Science at Clarkson.
The electrified snail, being a biotechnological living device, is able to regenerate glucose consumed by biocatalytic electrodes, upon appropriate feeding and relaxing, and then produce a new portion of electrical energy.
The snail with the implanted biofuel cell will be able to operate in a natural environment, producing sustainable electrical micropower for activating various bioelectronic devices, the researchers say.
Implantable biofuel cells have been suggested as sustainable micropower sources operating in living organisms, but such bioelectronic systems are still exotic and very challenging to design.
Research like this by Katz and other scientists is working toward a goal of creating insect cyborgs, an idea that has been funded by the U.S. Department of Defense.
Very few examples of abiotic and enzyme-based biofuel cells operating in living animals have been reported. Implantation of biocatalytic electrodes and extraction of electrical power from small living creatures is even more difficult and has not been achieved to date.
Performing the research with Katz were Clarkson Research Professors Lenka Halámková, Jan Halámek and Vera Bocharova; Clarkson graduate student Alon Szczupak; and Professor Lital Alfonta of the Avram and Stella Goldstein-Goren Department of Biotechnology Engineering and Ilse Katz Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Beer-Sheva, Israel.
To view the article in “Nature,” visit http://www.nature.com/news/cyborg-snails-power-up-1.10210
The “Scientific American” article is at http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=cyborg-snails-power-up .
Katz's research is also viewable online at the Journal of the American Chemical Society website at http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/ja211714w .