Saturday, 29 September 2012

Electronics for the Body

US scientists have created "ultra-thin electronics that dissolve inside the body" ( As can be seen from the video on the BBC website (link above), the electronic 'plate' appears to 'melt' away. "The components are made of silicon and magnesium oxide, and placed in a protective layer of silk. The speed of melting is controlled by the silk. The material is collected from silkworms, dissolved and then allowed to reform. Altering the way the dissolved silk crystallises changes its final properties - and how long the device will last" (

These electronics are classed as "transient electronics" ( The aim is for the electronics to "function for medically useful time frames but then completely disappear via resorption [reabsorption] by the body" due to the "remarkable feature of modern silicon electronics  and its ability to remain physically invariant, almost indefinitely" (

In terms of medical uses the team of researchers are finding uses for the technology having testing in "rats a device that heats a wound to kill off bugs. There are also ideas around using the technology to slowly release drugs inside the body or to build sensors for the brain and heart. John Rogers, a mechanical science and engineering professor at the University of Illinois, said: 'Infection is a leading cause of readmission, a device could be put in to the body at the site of surgery just before it is closed up'" ( Another huge benefit is that "medical implants will never need to be surgically removed" ( meaning that surgery does not need to be repeated to remove what may have been out in place. So, the electronics can be programmed to completely disintegrate once they have performed their task.

"As for concerns of toxicity, they say the materials are non-toxic and that in one device they used less of the mineral magnesium than is found in a multivitamin" (


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