Electric Molluscs

Snails with implanted electrodes generate electricity via metabolism.

By | March 14, 2012

Aleksandar Cocek, Flickr

ALEKSANDAR COCEK, FLICKR

Researchers at Clarkson University in Potsdam, New York, have implanted snails with tiny biofuel cells that capture electrical power from the snail’s blood. The electrified snail munches on carrots while the device extracts power from glucose and oxygen in the snail’s blood, producing a steady trickle of electricity for months.

“The animals are quite fit — they eat, drink, and crawl. We take care to keep them alive and happy,” senior author Evgeny Katz told Nature. The research was published last week in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

In addition to snails, researchers have created cyborg cockroaches, beetles, and rats. While these creepy crawlies aren’t likely to power a light bulb anytime soon, they might be able to power sensors or radio antennae that, when attached to the animals, could gather information about their surroundings for environmental monitoring or military purposes, Nature reported.

Next, Katz plans to move onto a larger animal with the potential to produce more energy—cyborg lobsters.

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