Electric eel inspired devices inside the human body – #FOTD343

Electric eel inspired devices inside the human body – #FOTD343


– Fact of the day.
– Fact of the day. Hello, hi, and welcome to Fact Of The Day with me, Mark Lotsu. Electric eel-inspired devices
inside the human body. The knifefish, or electric
eel, electrophorus electricus, probably one of the best
scientific names ever, provided the creative spark for
Alessandro Volta’s invention of the first battery 218 years ago in 1800. So now it’s back on the table,
well it has been for a while, but it’s used to inspire
research scientists in order to create a power
source for artificial organs and devices inside the human body. Well they can do the impossible, I mean literally impossible. You know the cell membrane? The membrane around every single cell in all 37.2 trillion cells in our body? And the membrane in all cells
in all living organisms? Well it can only withstand a voltage of about 200 millivolts. How is it then that the electric eel can generate a voltage of 600 volts? That’s a 300,000% increase in voltage, That is insane. And it uses this to stun its prey, which, you’d be stunned if
you got hit with 600 volts. It’s because, across each
membrane of specialised cells that the electric eel
has, called electrocytes, the voltage is very, very low. But there are thousands and thousands of these cells in a row, in series. And so the voltage from
each cell is added up to give you the total
voltage of 600 volts. So a prototype based
on this has been built that runs on a solution of salt and water. But researchers are looking to get it running on body fluids. So the prototype uses
four different hydrogels made of polyacrylamide and water, and then they stacked
them on top of each other. They stacked 2,500 of them together, and were able to generate
a voltage of 110 volts. Pathetic really, compared
to the electric eel. So their next aim is to make the membranes really, really thin, much thinner, because the electric eel’s
membranes are much thin, and therefore, there’s
a much low resistance, so you can generate a larger voltage. So the research is being
co-led by Thomas Schroeder, a chemical engineer at
The University Of Michigan in Ann Arbour. He said the artificial organ, the prototype, has lots of characteristics that traditional batteries don’t have. They’re not as toxic and they run on renewable
streams of electrolyte solutions. So the potential here is
to generate electric power inside a living body like us human beings. Then, use that power
generator inside our bodies to power things like pacemakers, or insulin pumps, or
any drug delivery pumps. But their thinking’s too small. Just, this is where cybernetics
is gonna really take off. Imagine having a robotic eye, but not needing any power
source for that robotic eye because your body generates
the power it needs from its own cells. How cool would that be? That is electric eel-inspired
devices inside the human body. Thanks for watching, love you, bye, love you, bye, love you, bye. (bright music)

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