High-performance, implantable and epidermal batteries for hybrid bioelectronic systems


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Wireless power strategies are critical to system level implementation of bio-integrated devices. To achieve mechanically robust, manufacturable systems, batteries are often integrated as an on-board power source to support sensing, wireless communication and signal conditioning. Unfortunately, most sources of battery power use hazardous and environmentally harmful materials, which frustrate incorporation into bio-integrated devices and create environmental concerns due to toxic electrolytes and the potential for self-discharge. This work focuses on developing unconventional battery technologies that overcome these limitations associated with commercial batteries. The results report two high-performance battery technologies that are controllably activated by biofluids, carefully designed such that in the absence of biofluids, the batteries are naturally dry and mitigate concerns regarding self-discharge. Exploiting human biofluids as the electrolyte obfuscates concerns regarding electrolyte leakage, rendering these batteries safe and practical for bio-integrated systems and the environment. In the first work, the biocompatible, sweat-activated battery technology (~67 Ah kg-1,1.5V) can be utilized in a detachable electronic module that contains wireless communication and power management systems, capable of continuous on-skin recording of physiological signals. To illustrate the practical utility of this approach, the sweat-activated batteries operate hybrid microfluidic/microelectronics systems that monitor heart rate, sweat chloride and sweat pH in human trials. In the second work, the eco/bioresorbable battery (~10 mAh cm-2, 1.8V) acts as a power supply for cardiac pacemakers, wireless environmental monitors, and thermal sensors/actuators, with the ability to safely operate in vivo and naturally degrade without any footprint. This novel class of implantable and epidermal batteries have the potential to substitute state-of-the-art alkaline batteries; further optimizations will only improve the feasibility of these batteries for biomedical applications.

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