A crash course in changing the world.
Scientists around the world are clamoring to design inexpensive biochips to quickly test for a
diseases. But no one has been able to make a similarly small and
Lee and his team of researchers at Singapore's Institute of Bioengineering and
tackled this problem by using the very substance being tested - urine -
power the test.
To make the battery, Lee and his team soaked a piece of paper in copper chloride and then sandwiched
between strips of magnesium and copper. Then they laminated the credit
card-sized unit between transparent plastic films.
When a drop of urine is added to the copper chloride paper, a chemical reaction takes place and
produces electricity, which is harnessed by the battery. A few drops
generate about 1.5 volts, the same as a AA battery.
The battery needs to be developed further to make it commercially
"Our urine-activated battery would be integrated into biochip systems for healthcare
applications," Lee said.
Lee and his team also found that they could alter the battery's performance - voltage, power, or
by adjusting the design or materials.
The chemical composition of urine indicates a person's general health and is widely used in
tests. For instance, doctors measure the concentration of the sugar
determine whether someone is diabetic.
Lee predicts that one day people will be able to monitor their own health at home using biochips
by this type of battery.
"These fully-integrated biochip systems have a huge market potential," Lee said.
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