New Tattoo Could Charge Your Electronic Device with the Power of Sweat (VIDEO)

First Posted: Aug 14, 2014 08:46 AM EDT

Working out may not just be good for you; it could also be good for your environment. Scientists have managed to design a sensor in the form of a temporary tattoo that not only can monitor a person's process during exercise, but can also produce power from their perspiration.

The tattoo works by detecting and responding to lactate, which is naturally present in sweat. The more intense the exercise, the more lactate the body produces. This means that you can essentially power the tattoo by working out harder.

During strenuous physical activity, the body needs to generate more energy. This causes it to activate a process called glycolysis. Glycolysis produces energy and lactate, which researchers can detect in the blood. Professional athletes actually monitor their lactate levels during performance as a way to evaluate their fitness and training program.

The new tattoo, though, doesn't require blood tests. The flexible lactate sensor is printed onto tattoo paper. The sensor itself contains an enzyme that strips electrons from lactate, generating a weak electrical current. The researchers also added a biobattery with an anode that contained the enzyme that removed electrons from lactate and a cathode that contained a molecule that accepted the electrons.

"The current produced is not that high, but we are working on enhancing it so that eventually we could power some small electronic devices," said Wenzhao Jia, one of the researchers, in a news release. "Right now, we can get a maximum of 70 microWatts per cm^2, but our electrodes are only two by three millimeters in size and generate about four microWatts-a bit small to generate enough power to run a watch, for example, which requires at least 10 microWatts. So besides working to get higher power, we also need to leverage electronics to store the generated current and make it sufficient for these requirements."

The new tattoo biobatteries could offer a way for individuals to charge electronic devices simply by working out. In addition, the tattoos could have further applications.

Want to learn more? Check out the video below, courtesy of YouTube.

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