Scientists Develop Revolutionary Ultra-Thin Battery for Smart Contact Lenses

In a groundbreaking development, scientist Lee Seok Woo has unveiled a cutting-edge innovation: batteries for smart contact lenses that can be charged by tears. Inspired by a scene from a “Mission Impossible” movie, where an agent uses high-tech contact lenses, Lee sought to turn science fiction into reality.

Lee, an associate professor at Nanyang Technological University’s School of Electrical and Electronical Engineering, recognized the need for safe and compact batteries for smart contact lenses. Given the ultra-thin nature of these lenses, with a thickness of 0.5 mm, the size and flexibility of the batteries are crucial to ensuring user comfort.

The newly developed battery, with a thickness of about 0.2 mm, can be powered using a biocompatible saline solution, eliminating the need for traditional lithium-ion batteries that contain flammable materials. By coating the battery with glucose and immersing it in a saline solution, the glucose reacts with sodium and chloride ions to charge the battery effectively.

One of the most intriguing aspects of this innovation is the ability to charge the battery using tears. Lee explained, “Tear solution also contains glucose. That means, while you’re wearing the contact lens, your tears can also charge the battery. If you cry more, then you can charge your battery more.”

Currently, the battery’s capacity and voltage remain relatively low, producing approximately 0.3V – 0.6V, compared to the standard 1.5V of an AA battery. While the current output may not be sufficient for tasks like data storage or internet connectivity, Lee and his team are actively working to enhance the battery’s capabilities.

Looking ahead, Lee envisions potential applications in healthcare, particularly for diabetic patients who need to monitor their glucose levels regularly. By incorporating glucose detection capabilities into the smart contact lenses, this innovation could revolutionize how health data is collected and managed.

As this groundbreaking technology progresses towards commercialization, Lee emphasizes the importance of keeping costs low to ensure widespread accessibility. With further advancements and refinements, the future looks promising for smart contact lenses powered by tears.