Supercapacitor “Sandwiches”: The Tasty Future of Ingestible Electronics?

Supercapacitor “Sandwiches”: The Tasty Future of Ingestible Electronics?

Supercapacitor make edible electronics

I love trying out new recipes: as long as I have a sharp knife and a good source for unusual produce, I fell well equipped to give almost anything a shot! But the requirements for this new sandwich gave me pause, as I’d need more than my kitchen — I’d need a lab.

The “sandwich” in question is a supercapacitor that is designed to power ingestible electronics, and is therefore made out of food. Yes, literal food! Ingredients include cheese, nori, gold leaf, and Gatorade. From Smithsonian Magazine:

“The steps for making the supercapacitors—the recipe, if you will—go like this: researchers mix a bit of egg white with carbon pellets (activated carbon, sometimes called ‘activated charcoal,’ is used in some digestive medicines), then add water and more egg white. They apply the mixture to a bit of edible gold foil. They then layer together a slice of cheese and a sheet of gelatin with the egg-and carbon-covered gold foil. On top of that they add a square of dried seaweed, the type used to roll sushi, which has been soaked with drops of energy drink. They stack more of the same materials together, and seal them in a sealing machine.”

The ingredients in this supercapacitor, when combined as above, can store and conduct electricity just as well as traditional components made out of indigestible graphene or polymers. But they have the added advantage of not needing to be passed from a subject’s system — they are just plain eaten, and experience the same fate as a regular mouthful of food. The only downside is that they need a bit more development in order to make them smaller: current prototypes are about the size of a ketchup packet, and in order to work, the supercapacitors have to be swallowed whole.

What I find really fascinating about this invention is that it foregrounds the mechanical nature of the human body, and how fuel for us can easily double as fuel for, say, a small camera taking pictures of your stomach lining. I look forward to the day when a cheesy, seaweed-y snack can do more for me than entertain my taste buds — it can help monitor the state of my insides!