Wireless communication by an autonomous self-powered cyborg insect

Jamie Schwefel, Roy E. Ritzmann, Irene N. Lee, Alan Pollack, William Weeman, Steve Garverick, Mark Willis, Michelle Rasmussen, Daniel Alberto Scherson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)


A trehalose/oxygen biofuel cell was implanted in Blaberus discoidalis to convert chemical energy stored within the insect hemolymph into electrical energy which was then used to power a custom-designed oscillator mounted on the back of the insect, capable of producing signals in the audible range. The ability of this cyborg to generate and transmit signals wirelessly was demonstrated by placing an external receiver up to a few centimeters away from the insect while it was tethered to a device that enabled it to walk in place on top of a light weight, air-suspended solid sphere. Wireless communication could also be established between the transmitter powered by the same type of biofuel cell implanted in the moth Manduca sexta and the receiver, while the live insect was being restrained with wax in a Petri dish. Possible means of reducing the weight and size of the transmitter so as to allow the moth to carry it in flight are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)H3113-H3116
JournalJournal of the Electrochemical Society
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Jan 1
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Electrochemistry
  • Materials Chemistry


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