View Full Version : Nanowires Convert Rat's Heartbeat Into Usable Elec

06-05-2010, 04:42 AM

Nanowires inside a rat can convert the power of breathing and heartbeats into electricity, according to researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology. The nano-generator could conceivably lead to nano-scale medical implants and sensors powered by the body, Technology Review reports.

Rat Nano-Generator: A single zinc oxide nanowire can be attached to a ratís heart, where it produces electric current as it bends with every beat. Via Tech Review Zhong Lin Wang via Technology Review
The same GIT team proved five years ago that zinc oxide nanowires could produce electricity from a running hamster, for instance, or from tapping fingers. The wires produce electricity when under mechanical stress, called the piezoelectric effect. But now, it's been proven to work inside a living animal.

Zhong Lin Wang, a materials science and engineering professor at Georgia Tech, led the team that attached the nano-generator to a rat's diaphragm.

Researchers put a zinc oxide nanowire onto a flexible polymer and encapsulated it into a polymer casing to protect it from bodily fluids, Tech Review reports. When attached to the rat's diaphragm, the animal's breathing stretched the nanowire, and it generated a tiny amount of electricity -- about four pico-amps of current at two millivolts. When it was attached to the rat's heart, the nano-generator produced about 30 pico-amps at about three millivolts.

The rat generator operates at the femtowatt scale -- a pico-amp is a million millionth of an amp, so it is a tiny amount of current -- so not very much power. But the technology has potential to power nano-sized devices, Wang says in a paper on the results published in the journal Advanced Materials.

Wang's team is already building on the rat findings, Tech Review reports. The team has a device that integrates hundreds of nanowires into an array, giving an output current of about 100 nano-amps at 1.2 volts. The next step is to connect the higher-powered nano-generator inside an animal, Wang says.

06-05-2010, 06:52 PM
As this technology advances the possibilities are staggering.
For instance the electrical current could be used to power a pacemaker rather than depend on a battery.