Sweat-eating Microbes Power E-skins


Researchers from the University of New York-Binghamton have published on the ability to generate electricity from bacteria that feed on human sweat.

Published in Nano Energy, their work sought to identify a reliable power source for electronic skins (e-skins), which have emerged as important wearable diagnostic, therapeutic and monitoring tools. According to the article abstract, integrating human skin with e-skins, however, requires generating power from the mostly desolate cool, dry and acidic environment of skin, which is where sweat affords an opportunity.

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Sweat metabolism by native Staphylococcus epidermidis, Staphylococcus capitis and Micrococcus luteus bacteria was found to produced bioelectrogenesis. From this, a "biobattery" or microbial fuel cell using the bacteria as a biocatalyst could transform sweat into electrical power through the bacterial metabolism. The authors added that given the number of microbes living on skin, the direct use of microbes to power e-skins is conceivable.

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