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New biological "battery" could lead to longer-lasting pacemakers.

Researchers from UCLA and the University of Connecticut have designed a new bio-friendly energy storage system called a biological supercapacitor, which operates using charged particles, or ions, from fluids in the human body. The device could lead to longer-lasting cardiac pacemakers and other implantable medical devices. Pacemakers--which help regulate abnormal heart rhythms--and other implantable devices have saved countless lives. But they're powered by traditional batteries that eventually run out of power and must be replaced, meaning another painful surgery and the accompanying risk of infection. Also, batteries contain toxic materials that could endanger the patient if the batteries leaked. The researchers propose storing energy in those devices without a battery. The supercapacitor they invented is charged by using electrolytes from biological fluids like blood serum and urine, and it would work with another device called an energy harvester, which converts heat and motion from the human body into electricity--in much the same way that self-winding watches are powered by the wearer's body movements. The electricity the body produces is then captured by the supercapacitor. "Combining energy harvesters with supercapacitors can provide endless power for lifelong implantable devices that may never need to be replaced," says Maher El-Kady, a UCLA postdoctoral researcher and a co-author of the study. The research was supported by the National Institutes of Health's National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, and the NIH's National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

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Title Annotation:NEWS BRIEFS
Publication:Healthy Years
Date:Sep 1, 2017
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