Researchers in Singapore Develop Micrometer-Thin Battery Powered by Tears

A team of researchers in Singapore has made a breakthrough in the development of smart contact lenses by creating a micrometer-thin battery that can store energy from human tears. This innovation could potentially eliminate the need for bulky external devices like smart glasses.

Smart contact lenses have faced challenges in terms of power supply, as batteries have not been able to keep up with the shrinking size of display technology. Typically, these lenses require a wire connected to an external power source, which is impractical.

Lead author Lee Seok Woo, an associate professor at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore, explained that the inspiration for this research came from a simple question: could contact lens batteries be recharged with tears? The team’s findings were published in the journal Nano Energy.

An Environmentally Friendly Solution

The newly developed battery relies on glucose and water to generate electricity, making it safe for humans and less harmful to the environment when disposed of compared to conventional batteries. The battery is constructed using biocompatible materials and features a glucose-based coating that reacts with sodium and chloride ions found in tears to generate electricity.

In an experiment using a simulated eye, the battery produced enough power to operate a smart contact lens. It generated a current of 45 microamperes at a maximum output of 201 microwatts.

This innovative solution could eliminate the need for bulky wireless charging. Li Zongkang, a PhD student at NTU and coauthor of the study, explained that by combining the battery and biofuel cell into a single component, the battery can charge itself without requiring additional space for wired or wireless components.

While the technology is still in its early stages and has limitations, such as being able to be charged and discharged only 200 times, the research team is already collaborating with contact lens companies to bring this technology to market.

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