The first urine-powered paper battery has been created by physicists in Singapore.

The credit-card sized unit could be a useful power source for cheap healthcare test kits for diseases like diabetes, and could even be used in emergency situations to power a cellphone, they say.

Testing urine can reveal the identity of illnesses, and the new paper battery could allow the sample being tested to also power the diagnostic device.

“We are striving to develop cheap, disposable credit-card sized biochips for disease detection,” says Ki Bang Lee, at the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology in Singapore. “Our battery can be easily integrated into such devices, supplying electricity on contact with biofluids such as urine or blood.”

Current biochips need an external reader such as a laser scanner or an external source of power, such as conventional batteries, to perform diagnostic tests. Lee‘s technology houses both the sensors and the battery on one plastic chip.

More here.