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Swallowable Micro Batteries Made of Melanin

8/25/16 Batteries that can safely be swallowed and are designed to be safely in your body! Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have created this and believe that digestible batteries could be used to power “edible electronics” that serve a variety of medical purposes, from diagnosis to treatment.

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These ingestible batteries were made with benign, endogenous materials instead of the potentially toxic components currently used to make todays batteries. The key ingredient in making the electrodes is melanin, a pigment that naturally occurs in human skin, hair, and eyes. According to a press release, “melanins absorb ultraviolet light to quench free radicals and protect us from damage. They also happen to bind and unbind metallic ions.”

This biodegradable battery is encapsulated in a digestible 3D-printed shell made of a gelatin material, like the type used in some vitamins. The capsule “could deliver controlled-release therapies to fight disease with previously impossible precision and safety,” Bloomberg reports. Once the pill reaches the stomach, the battery comes into contact with ions activating current flow in the device. Targeted drug-delivery methods use this electrical field to trigger the release of the chemicals into the body.

The melanin-based battery’s lifespan is 10 to 20 hours, ample time to facilitate drug delivery or power sensing devices that monitor blood sugar levels.
This new battery technology could replace the batteries used in ingestible cameras, decreasing the threat of get lodged and bursting toxic chemicals in the body. If this battery should burst, only harmless pigment will be released into the body not posing any threat.