Engineers have developed an inexpensive, bacteria-powered battery made from paper using origami, the Japanese art of paper folding.
The battery generates power from microbial respiration, delivering enough energy to run a paper-based biosensor, the researchers reported in the Nano Energy journal.
"Paper is cheap and biodegradable and we do not need external pumps or syringes because paper can suck up a solution using capillary force" said Seokheun Choi from Binghamton University in the US.
While paper-based biosensors have shown promise in this area, the existing technology must be paired with hand-held devices for analysis.
Choi's battery, which folds into the size of a matchbook, uses an inexpensive air-breathing cathode created with nickel sprayed onto one side of ordinary office paper.
The anode is screen printed with carbon paints, creating a hydrophilic zone with wax boundaries.
Total cost of this potentially game-changing device is just five cents, Choi said.