Researchers develop biodegradable electronics

October 2, 2012 |

In Illinois, researchers at the University of Illinois, in collaboration with Tufts University and Northwestern University, have demonstrated a new type of biodegradable electronics technology that could introduce new design paradigms for medical implants, environmental monitors and consumer devices such as cell phones. The “transient electronic” systems harness and extend various techniques that the researchers have developed over the years for making tiny, yet high performance electronic systems out of ultrathin sheets of silicon.

In transient applications, the sheets are so thin that they completely dissolve in a few days when immersed in biofluids. Together with soluble conductors and dielectrics, based on magnesium and magnesium oxide, these materials provide a complete palette for a wide range of electronic components. The researchers encapsulate the devices in silk. The structure of the silk determines its rate of dissolution – from minutes, to days, weeks or, potentially, years.

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