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Models of eel cells suggest electrifying possibilities
Date:10/2/2008

conversion of ion concentrations to electrical impulses and tested it against previously published data on electrocytes and nerve cells to verify its accuracy. Then they considered how to optimize the system to maximize power output by changing the overall mix of channel types.

Their calculations show that substantial improvements are possible. One design for an artificial cell generates more than 40 percent more energy in a single pulse than a natural electrocyte. Another would produce peak power outputs over 28 percent higher. In principle, say the authors, stacked layers of artificial cells in a cube slightly over 4 mm on a side are capable of producing continuous power output of about 300 microwatts to drive small implant devices. The individual components of such artificial cellsincluding a pair of artificial membranes separated by an insulated partition and ion channels that could be created by engineering proteinsalready have been demonstrated by other researchers. Like the natural counterpart, the cells energy source would be adenosine triphosphate (ATP), synthesized from the bodys sugars and fats using tailored bacteria or mitochondria.


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Contact: Michael Baum
michael.baum@nist.gov
301-975-2763
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
Source:Eurekalert  

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