A team of scientists has developed tiny “biocompatible” electronic medical devices that can dissolve harmlessly in the body or the environment after performing a particular beneficial function.
Biomedical engineers at Tufts University and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign who developed the so-called “transient electronics” said they could be used for everything from medical implants to environmental sensors to consumer electronics.
“The new class of silk-silicon devices promises a generation of medical implants that never need surgical removal, as well as environmental monitors and consumer electronics that can become compost rather than trash,” the researchers reported in the journal Science.SPECIAL: These 4 Things Happen Right Before a Heart Attack — Read More.
Fiorenzo Omenetto, a Tufts professor of biomedical engineering, said the devices could be used in a range of applications.
"Transient electronics offer robust performance comparable to current devices but they will fully resorb into their environment at a prescribed time – ranging from minutes to years, depending on the application," Omenetto explained. "Imagine the environmental benefits if cell phones, for example, could just dissolve instead of languishing in landfills for years."
In one application described in the paper, researchers said the techology could be used to create a device inserted at the site of a surgery that would heat the area enough to kill bacteria and prevent infection in the patient.
The research was funded, in part, by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the National Science Foundation, and the National Institutes of Health.SPECIAL: These 4 Things Happen Right Before a Heart Attack — Read More.