Origami is key to bacteria-powered battery paper-based biosensors

Origami is key to bacteria-powered battery paper-based biosensors

Technology News |
By eeNews Europe

The battery, which was developed by Seokheun ‘Sean’ Choi and described in the July edition of the journal Nano Energy, generates power from microbial respiration, delivering enough energy to run a paper-based biosensor with nothing more than a drop of bacteria-containing liquid.

"Dirty water has a lot of organic matter," explained Choi. "Any type of organic material can be the source of bacteria for the bacterial metabolism."

The method should be especially useful to anyone working in remote areas with limited resources. Seeing as paper is inexpensive and readily available, many experts working on disease control and prevention have seized upon it as a key material in creating diagnostic tools for the developing world.

"Paper is cheap and it is biodegradable," said Choi. "And we don’t need external pumps or syringes because paper can suck up a solution using capillary force."

While paper-based biosensors have shown promise in this area, the existing technology must be paired with hand-held devices for analysis. Choi says he envisions a self-powered system in which a paper-based battery would create enough energy – we’re talking microwatts – to run the biosensor.

Choi’s battery, which folds into a square the size of a matchbook, uses an inexpensive air-breathing cathode created with nickel sprayed onto one side of ordinary office paper. The anode is screen printed with carbon paints, creating a hydrophilic zone with wax boundaries.

The researcher estimates the total cost of this potentially game-changing device would be five cents.

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