Could a nano-sized stack of artificial cells based on the biology of Electric Eels be used to power human medical implants? Some researchers thinks so. Roland Piquepaill:
Different cells have different functions. For example, 'nerve cells,which move information rather than energy, can fire rapidly but with relatively little power [while] electrocytes have a slower cycle, but deliver more power for longer periods.' The research team 'developed a complex numerical model to represent the conversion of ion concentrations to electrical impulses and tested it against previously published data on electrocytes and nerve cells to verify its accuracy. Then they considered how to optimize the system to maximize power output by changing the overall mix of channel types.'
And what did the researchers find? 'Their calculations show that substantial improvements are possible. One design for an artificial cell generates more than 40 percent more energy in a single pulse than a natural electrocyte. Another would produce peak power outputs over 28 percent higher. In principle, say the authors, stacked layers of artificial cells in a cube slightly over 4 mm on a side are capable of producing continuous power output of about 300 microwatts to drive small implant devices.'