MIT researchers are close to perfecting a new type of fuel cell that's powered by glucose instead of human-implanted batteries that need recharging via cable.
The idea of a sugar-powered fuel cell dates back to the 1970s, but advancements in silicon technology have allowed the cells to be created from non-organic materials which won't break down in the body. The cell uses a platinum catalyst, mounted on a microchip to strip electrons from glucose harvested from the cerebrospinal fluid that surrounds the brain.
It doesn't generate enough to power something like a pacemaker, as the total energy yield is only about a few hundred microwatts, but it's more than sufficient to keep neural implants running.
These fuel cells could potentially help people suffering from brain or spinal cord injuries regain some control of their bodies.