"Revolutionizing Electronic Skin: Biobatteries Powered by Collagen-based biomaterials” is one of the six biomedical projects selected in Portugal in the CaixaImpulse Health Innovation Call 2023 promoted by “la Caixa” Foundation. The project is coordinated by Ana Pina, former researcher at UCIBIO-NOVA and currently Principal Investigator at ITQB-NOVA, and will be developed with the support of a multidisciplinary consortium team that includes Leonor Morgado, researcher at the Biochemistry and Bioenergetics of Heme Proteins research lab at UCIBIO-NOVA FCT. The team also involves Ana Baptista, researcher at CENIMAT-NOVA FCT, Felipe Conzuelo from ITQB-NOVA and Erin Tranfield from Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência.
The project receives 49 k€ and aims to develop an ultra-thin, flexible, lightweight and biocompatible battery to power electronic skin (e-skin) devices that combines innovative collagen-like materials and flexible microelectronics for portable applications, leaving conventional power sources behind. E-skin is one of the most innovative fields in which the electronics industry is currently working. E-skin technology will facilitate the detection of diseases, the application of medical therapies and, in general, more advanced health monitoring. However, there are still some technical hurdles to overcome. Leonor Morgado says that “I will be involved in the structural characterization of the biological materials at the molecular level”.
Current electronic materials are rigid and non-degradable, while the human body is soft, dynamic, stretchable and self-healing. Currently available energy sources (batteries) for e-skin systems are heavy and made of hazardous materials. Other more advanced portable power sources, such as enzymatic biobatteries and biofuel cells, also present technical limitations. There is therefore a need to develop a new class of electronic materials that have properties similar to skin.
CaixaImpulse Innovation helps to transfer scientific knowledge to society and encourages the creation of new products, services and companies related to life sciences. It supports innovative biomedical projects by helping them to validate their asset/s and define their valorisation and exploitation strategy, and by bringing them closer to the market. The Among the 29 projects funded in Portugal and Spain, the remaining projects in Portugal led by researchers Guadalupe Cabral (NOVA Lisboa), Luisa Lopes (iMM), Mónica Serrano (ITQB NOVA), Pedro Soares-Castro iMM) and Victoria Leiro (i3S) stand out.
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