Scientists in Italy have developed an edible battery that could open new doors for powering ingestible medical devices. Even more intriguing is that the battery is made of basic materials found in almonds and capers — so scientists haven’t had to create an entirely new product to make it work.
The use of ingestible devices in medical processes isn’t an unheard-of thing. However, these devices aren’t digestible at the current level, requiring surgical intervention if something goes wrong and they can’t be removed as initially intended.
That is where the use of an edible battery comes into play because the battery is made of items the body can easily break down. The core electrodes in the device are comprised of riboflavin, a vitamin found in almonds — and quercetin, a food supplement found in capers.
Aside from medical devices like cameras and biosensors, the edible battery could also be used to power digestible food quality monitors and event soft robots, like the magnetic slime we saw appearing in papers some months back.
The prototype of the edible battery is described in a paper the scientists published in Advanced Materials. It’s currently rechargeable and operates at 0.65 volts. Unfortunately, the small rectangular battery requires recharging outside of the body.
Still, the development of this prototype is exciting because of the promise it offers. If it truly can be digested without issue, and they can find a way to recharge it inside of the human body, it could revolutionize how we use medical devices in the body as they advance.
The scientists say that it is the first rechargeable and edible battery that has been developed thus far. While it will, no doubt, not be the last we see, the battery could help inspire others to create similar options — or even find new ways to make edible batteries out of other materials found in food.