Rechargable Glucose Cells From MIT: Biomedical Research

In what might be called path-breaking in the field of bio-engineering, the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT is working to cultivate the use of glucose cells and several other innovations which can be used to propel biomedical devices like pacemaker and cochlear implants.

Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Rahul Sarpeshkar was at the MIT Technology Review 2012 in Bangalore recently, where he had a discussion on the projects he and his team of PhD scholars have been working on for sometime and have now started yielding results.

Sarpeshkar calls them biologically inspired electronics or designs in electronic devices that are inspired from the human body and its parts. The cochlear implant, he spoke of, is inspired from the human ear, which he calls as the most energy efficient device owing to its low power consumption. The human ear, he said, is also one of he most sophisticated one as it can hear sounds ranging from the clatter of leaves to the roar of a jet engine.

The professor enchanted the audience with his presentation on brain implants that would not only help disabled people but also the visually impaired. The implant would be in the form of a silicon chip fixed on the brain and would receive and transmit signals wirelessly to a receptor, which in turn would receive images from a specially made set of spectacles.

The main impediment, he says, is to produce a cell that can power such devices without the need to replace the cell within in.

“We have tested what we call ‘glucose cells’ that will recharge itself from the glucose in the blood. What you have to do is to take some food and it would automatically get recharged,” said Sarpeshkar.

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