High Tech: Gold Helps Turn Sweat into Power
Scientists have developed a stretchable fuel cell using gold that can generate energy from sweat. This evolving technology could be used to power a wide range of wearable devices from watches to Bluetooth radios.
This is yet another example of gold’s expanding role in the world of high-tech.
We generally think of gold as an investment as well as money, but it is increasingly being used in high-tech applications from energy production to healthcare. Gold’s conductivity and malleability make it suitable for a number of futuristic applications.
Engineers from the University of California, San Diego, have developed a stretchable electronic foundation using lithography and screen-printing that makes it possible to generate power using the body’s sweat. Through this process, scientists can formulate 3-D carbon nanotube-based cathode and anode arrays. These epidermal biofuel cells generate 10-times more power per surface area than any existing wearable biofuel cell.
The biofuel cells are equipped with an enzyme that oxidizes lactic acid present in human sweat to generate current. Scientists at UC San Diego demonstrated the fuel cell recently. It was able to reliably power an LED as the wearer exercised on a stationary bike.
Gold is an important element in the newly developed fuel cell, as explained by the Indian Express.
Essentially, the cell is made up of rows of dots that are each connected by spring-shaped structures. Half of the dots make up the cell’s anode or electrode through which conventional current flows; the other half are the cathode. The spring-like structures can stretch and bend, making the cell flexible without deforming the anode and cathode. The basis for the islands and bridges structure was manufactured via lithography and is made of gold. Researchers used screen printing to deposit layers of biofuel materials on top of the anode and cathode dots.”
Scientists called this a major breakthrough in wearable biofuel technology. Using gold in the process allowed them to make a device that is stretchable enough to wear, and yet can generate a usable amount of power.
Silver has long been associated with industrial and technological applications. Now gold is beginning to make its presence felt in this realm as well. Precious metals are literally helping build a better world.
Of course, historically, gold has helped people all over the world build and preserve wealth.
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