Engineers at Arizona State University (ASU), Tempe, have created an edible supercapacitor that, they say, can wipe out E. coli or power a camera from inside the body. Using edible foodstuffs like activated charcoal, gold leaf, seaweed, egg white, cheese, gelatin, and barbecue sauce, which can store and conduct electricity, and sandwiching them together, the researchers created supercapacitors that can store electrical energy temporarily.
The engineers were able to prove the lab that the devices can kill bacteria like E. coli. They also proved the devices can power a camera while in the stomach. That means that the supercapacitor may be able to replace endoscopies with real-time monitoring of the gastrointestinal tract.
While other ingestible electronics exist, they need to be passed from the body, and have low energy density with a limited battery life. The ASU device, however, is believed to be digestible, does not require removal surgery, and is composed of non-toxic ingredients.
The current devices were made by hand, but the engineers say that, in the future, they will be built by 3D printers and will be much smaller than the “sandwiches” made this year.