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6 March 2014 1:04 pm ,
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Antiretroviral drugs can protect people from becoming infected by HIV. But so-called pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP...
Two studies show that eating a diet low in protein and high in carbohydrates is linked to a longer, healthier life, and...
Considered an icon of conservation science, researchers at World Wildlife Fund (WWF) headquarters in Washington, D.C.,...
The new atlas, which shows the distribution of important trace metals and other substances, is the first product of...
Early in April, the first of a fleet of environmental monitoring satellites will lift off from Europe's spaceport in...
Since 2000, U.S. government health research agencies have spent almost $1 billion on an effort to churn out thousands...
Magdalena Koziol, a former postdoc at Yale University, was the victim of scientific sabotage. Now, she is suing the...
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ScienceShot: The Bionic Snail
25 May 2012 2:20 pm
It's not speedier than normal, but it sure is powerful. By implanting enzyme-coated electrodes into a snail, researchers have turned the invertebrate into a tiny fuel cell. The enzyme coating one electrode triggers a chemical reaction that consumes glucose produced by the snail and generates electrons. A different enzyme coating the other electrode takes spare electrons and gives them to positive ions in the snail's hemolymph, the invertebrate equivalent of blood. Together, these reactions created a voltage difference between the electrodes of a little more than 0.53 volts, generating power of a few microwatts, the researchers report in Journal of the American Chemical Society. (For comparison, the power generated by the solar cells in calculators and watches often are measured in microwatts.) The snail-based fuel cell—the first such implant to operate for an extended time without harming its host animal, the researchers claim—provided power for months, with power dropping when the glucose supply lagged and then surging again after the snail rested or ate. Improving the efficiency of chemical reactions at the electrodes could garner more power. Future generations of such fuel cells could power pacemakers or insulin pumps, for example, eliminating the need to change batteries regularly. Or, the electricity generated by similar implants in creatures such as worms or insects could one day power spy cameras or tiny microphones, or drive sensors that monitor the environment. In the meantime, watch what you say: The snails may be listening.
See more ScienceShots.