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Cockroaches undergo dialysis to power sensor network for humans

By Kaustubh Katdare in 'Electrical | Electronics | Communications', Feb 3, 2014.

  1. Kaustubh Katdare


    Engineering Discipline:
    The marriage between electronics and cockroaches isn't incredibly new. Cockroaches have inspired new robot designs, acted as your remote controlled insects and allowed for stealth-mode antics. However, a new development at the Osaka University and the Tokyo University Of Agriculture & Technology aka TUAT allows for creation of special network of sensors using cockroaches. "What's New?" you may ask. Well, the sensors mounted on the back of cockroaches are powered by the cockroaches themselves; eliminating the need of relying on an external power source.

    The research engineers were able to develop a new kind of fuel cell. The dimensions of this new fuel cell are 20mm x 15mm - allowing for easy mounting on the back of the cockroach. Once installed properly, the fuel cell uses a fluid called 'trehalose' inside cockroach's blood. The overall system comprises of electrodes, a container for the body fluid and a very tiny needle that goes into cockroach's body. The inner wall of the fluid container has a thin membrane for dialysis which allows for the body fluid to flow inside using diffusion.


    The fuel cells breaks the Trehalose into two enzymes in order to create glucose. The electrode oxidizes glucose (positive electrode) and oxygen accumulates on the negative electrode. This new fuel cell was demonstrated to 50.2μW of power; enough to power the sensors mounted on the back.

    These cyborg insects will soon be able to form a wide or local area network of sensors. What's even more interesting is that the researchers created the fuel cell using 3D printing technology! Do share your thoughts with us about this research below.

    Source: Engadget
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