Your head's battery

Fluids in the inner ear can actually power an electronic device, such as an implant

By Sid Perkins, 12:03 PM January 17, 2013

Scientists have designed a small electronic circuit (inside the two golden squares) that can monitor the strength of the natural battery in a guinea pig’s inner ear. The tiny device had to collect energy from the ear’s battery and then store it until there was enough power to transmit data to doctors. Credit: Mercier et al. (2012), Nature Biotechnology

A natural powerhouse in the ear of guinea pigs can run a tiny electronic device, researchers show. Human ears contain that same structure, which operates like a battery. Doctors might one day use this system to power implants. Some might monitor an individual’s blood. Others could dispense medicines.

Deep within the ear of all mammals is a spiral-shaped structure called a cochlea (KOKE lee ah). It contains two storage regions, each filled with a different liquid. One fluid contains dissol...

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