A jellyfish wearing a microelectric swim controller (top) easily outpaces a jellyfish swimming naturally (bottom).
Nicole Xu and John Dabiri, Caltech

Jellyfish (Aurelia aurita) embedded with a microelectric prosthetic swam 2.8 times faster than unequipped jellyfish while using only twice their normal metabolic energy, according to a study published on January 29 in Science Advances.

The biological motor mimics the natural movement of swimming and apparently causes no harm to the animals, reports Reuters. In the future, researchers say, they hope to use the device to aid in ocean exploration without disturbing the natural environment.

“It’s very sci-fi futuristic,” Nicole Xu, a coauthor and Stanford University bioengineer, tells Reuters. “We could send these bionic jellyfish to different areas of the ocean to monitor signs of climate change or observe natural phenomena.”

N. Xu et al., “Low-power microelectronics embedded in live jellyfish enhance propulsion,” Science Advances...

Amy Schleunes is an intern at The Scientist. Email her at aschleunes@the-scientist.com.

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