Implanted Biofuel Cells Operating in Vivo

Two movies prepared in our lab showing the experiments with the biofuel cell implanted in a snail: Video clip 1; Video clip 2.

You can also find additional video and audio clips here. They are available in English, German, Russian and Hebrew.

Implantable biofuel cells suggested as sustainable micro-power sources operating in living organisms are still exotic and very challenging to design bioelectronic systems. Very few examples of abiotic and enzyme-based biofuel cells operating in animals in vivo have been reported. Implantation of biocatalytic electrodes and extraction of electrical power from small living creatures is even more difficult and has not been achieved yet. We are reporting on the first implanted biofuel cell continuously operating in a snail and producing electrical power over long period of time using physiologically produced glucose as a fuel. The “electrified” snail, being a biotechnological living “device” was able to regenerate glucose consumed by biocatalytic electrodes, upon appropriate feeding and relaxing, and then produce a new “portion” of electrical energy. The snail with the implanted biofuel cell will be able to operate in a natural environment producing sustainable electrical micro-power for activating various bioelectronic devices.

Photo of a snail with implanted biocatalytic electrodes connected with crocodile clips to the external circuitry (close view).

L. Halámková, J. Halámek, V. Bocharova, A. Szczupak, L. Alfonta, E. Katz, J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2012, 134, ASAP article, DOI: 10.1021/ja211714w

Cyclic voltammograms of the PQQ-GDH-anode: curves a and b in the presence and absence of 20 mM glucose, respectively. b. Cyclic voltammograms of the laccase-cathode: curves a and b in the presence and absence of O2, respectively. All cyclic voltammograms were obtained in vitro in a solution composed of 22 mM NaHCO3, 40 mg∙mL-1 BSA, 6.7 mM MgCl2, 5 mM KCl; pH 7.4; scan rate 1 mV∙s-1. c. The implanted biofuel cell circuitry. d. Coupling of the enzymes with CNTs via the bifunc-tional linker PBSE.

Polarization curve of the implanted biofuel cell operated in vivo. Inset: Power generated on a variable load resistance.

Voltage generated by the implanted biofuel cell operated in vivo on 20 kΩ load resistance as a function of time. Inset: Restoring the cell voltage in real time upon feeding the snail.

(A) Photo of a clam with implanted biocatalytic electrodes (close view). (B) Circuitry schematics showing the external variable load resistance connected to the clam-biofuel cell for measuring voltage and current produced in vivo.

(A) and (B) Circuitries composed of 3 clam-biofuel cells connected in parallel and in serial, respectively. (C) Polarization curves of the living batteries composed of 3 clam-biofuel cells connected in serial (a) and parallel (b) operating in vivo. Inset: Power generated on a variable load resistance for the serial (a) and parallel (b) battery connections.

Charging of a 1 F capacitor (voltage and energy vs. time) from a battery composed of 3 clam-biofuel cells connected in parallel. The inset is a schematic illustration of the circuitry where only one biofuel cell connected to the capacitor is shown for simplicity.

Photos of an electrical motor rotating upon connection to the capacitor charged from the living battery composed of three clam-biofuel cells. (A) and (B): The initial and final positions of the rotor; note the clockwise rotation direction.

Updated on December 9, 2012