Cuttlefish, scientifically known as Sepiida, are not exactly fish despite being called “cuttle-fish”, they are molluscs. Cuttlefish are known for their very distinctive and superior ability to camouflage themselves to confuse their predators as well as their prey. These molluscs are able to change the appearance of their entire skin to seamlessly blend in with any environment they are in. Meaning, they are able to change the pattern of their skin to reflect the appearance of their environment, which makes it very hard to visually detect their presence.
The cuttlefish is able to execute this very complex feature by secreting a specialized fluid known as cephalopod ink. This ink, which is also found in other cephalopods – like squid and octopus, is 100% pure Melanin.
The Melanin, found in the cephalopod species is also often extracted and used in food dishes. It is highly recognized for its superior antioxidant properties, it is an excellent source of iron and other vital minerals. Cephalopods are acknowledged as the most intelligent of all invertebrates and have the most complex nervous system.
It has been known by scientists for a very long time that Melanin can be used as an anode in batteries.
From this discovery, scientists have always tried to harness the power of Melanin to further their technologies. In recent years they have managed to make a leap, by using Melanin that is extracted from the ink sac of the cuttlefish to make bio-safe batteries.
Recently, scientists have developed some very new medical devices that can be swallowed and used to do what conventional drugs are unable to do, include monitoring the progression of diseases, healing process and certain biological activities. These small devices are designed to execute tasks such as crawling through your veins and unblocking clogged arteries. The major problem they were faced with is that these devices require a power source (battery) to function. Since lithium based and other similar types of batteries are toxic and are not considered biocompatible (safe), they are not qualified as an option to resolve this issue. The only option was to make the batteries from a material that would be harmless when ingested and safely dissolve after usage (biodegradable).
A team of scientists from Carnegie Mellon University led by Chris Bettinger was able to provide the answer they were looking for. They were able to create a bio-friendly battery by using the Melanin extracted from the cuttlefish. Chris Bettinger stated: “We found that the melanin pigments in cuttlefish ink make it a perfect fit for use in battery electrodes that would ultimately be used in devices that operate in close proximity to sensitive living tissue.”
This discovery and application of Melanin will help many people to understand that Melanin is a very diverse material, with multiple functions. It confirms what many scientists have been saying for a very long time, that Melanin works like a battery that can retain a charge for a very long period of time.
Scientists have been using Melanin in its organic state as well as synthetically for a very long time to advance technology and also as a biological aid.