Ingesting button batteries sends almost 4,000 children to the emergency room every year. When a button battery is ingested, it interacts with water or saliva, creating an electrical current that produces hydroxide that can cause permanent damage to the digestive track.
A team of researchers at MIT, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Massachusetts General Hospital have developed a new method to coat these button batteries with a rubberlike material that prevents the batteries from conducting an electrical current. The material used is quantum tunneling composite (QTC) and is traditionally used in computer keywords and touchscreens. QTC is made of silicon, embedded with metal particles, and when squeezed the metal particles are brought closer together to produce a current. The researchers tested the coated batteries with the maximum force a battery could encounter if swallowed, and no electrical current was produced.
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