MIT researchers develop tiny sensor sustained by stomach acid
8 Feb 2017
Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have developed a tiny sensor that can be sustained by stomach acid, which could offer a low-cost alternative to traditional batteries.
The prototype sensor is roughly 40mm in length and about 12mm in diameter.
However, the researchers said they could make the capsule about one-third smaller by building an integrated circuit that would carry the energy harvester, transmitter, and a small microprocessor found within the sensor.
He has previously built similar devices designed to sense physiological conditions such as temperature, heart rate, and breathing rate, and to deliver drugs to treat diseases such as malaria.
“This [new] work could lead to a new generation of electronic ingestible pills that could someday enable novel ways of monitoring patient health and/or treating disease,” Langer said.
The device was tested in pigs, taking an average of six days to travel through the digestive tract.
While in the stomach, the voltaic cell produced enough energy to power a temperature sensor and transmit the data to a base station located two meters away, with a signal sent every 12 seconds, the researchers said.
“These types of systems have great potential to address important clinical needs, said John Rogers, a professor of materials science and engineering at Northwestern University, who was not involved in the research.
A full account of the research has been published in the journal Nature Biomedical Engineering.