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Raja Selvakumar, 17, of Alpharetta, developed a fuel cell that uses gastric microbes in stomach acid to produce electricity for his Intel Science Talent Search biochemistry project. He created his Gastro Microbial Fuel Cell (GMFC) as a power source for self-assembling remotely operated surgical nanobots that may someday be swallowed by patients to treat digestive diseases. Nanobot implementation has been impeded by the limitations of current battery technology. In a two-year effort, Raja created a GMFC that captures electricity from digestive bacteria he obtained from yogurt. He has managed to shrink his device — which he plans to patent — to the size of a gummy bear, while demonstrating its continuous operation for more than two months in the acidic conditions of the stomach. A black belt martial artist, Raja is co-president of the robotics club and founder and president of the chess club at Milton High School. He is currently working on his Eagle Scout service project. His work with youth includes math workshops, judging math contests, mock spelling bees and science bee preparation. The son of Selvakumar Shanmuganathan and Devi Selvakumar, Raja is fluent in Tamil and Spanish. He hopes to be an international entrepreneur.
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