cuttlefish by Nick Hobgood

Photo: Nick Hobgood

The cuttlefish, the fascinating cephalopod that always captures the visitor’s eye in an aquarium, may be the answer to many a medical problem.  Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have made an intriguing discovery: cuttlefish ink provides the right chemistry and nanostructure to power tiny electronic devices that could be swallowed or implanted in the body.

“We found that the melanin pigments in cuttlefish ink make it a perfect fit for use in battery electrodes that would ultimately be used in devices that operate in close proximity to sensitive living tissue,” says Chris Bettinger, an assistant professor in the departments of materials science and engineering and biomedical engineering at Carnegie Mellon University.

In contrast with most modern consumable batteries which can be toxic, the cuttlefish battery uses the cuttlefish’s ink for the anode and manganese oxide for the cathode, ensuring that all materials can easily be broken down and absorbed by the body.

Not only will a device run by this type of battery be safer, but the melanin pigments in the cuttlefish ink also offer a higher storage capacity than comparable synthetic melanin-based substances, resulting in a superior performance material


Just another way in which Nature shows us the way…

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