Scientists have created ultra-thin electronic devices that can “melt away” in the body once their job is done.
A new study, published in the journal Science
, details how scientists have created a tiny, fully functional electronic device
capable of vanishing within their environment, like in the body or in water, once they are no longer needed or useful. There are already implants that dispense drugs or provide electrical stimulation but they do not dissolve.
The latest creation is an early step in a technology that may benefit not only medicine, like enabling the development of medical implants that don’t need to be surgically removed or the risk of long-term side effects, but also electronic waste disposal.
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Researchers say they’re designing patch-like devices to wirelessly transmit information about a person’s vital health statistics, potentially freeing patients from the wires and sticky electrodes of electroencephalograms (EEGs) and electrocardiogram (EKGs).
The devices, currently envisioned to be more like a temporary tattoo than a medical patch, could conceivably measure heart activity and brain waves, said John Rogers, a professor of materials science and engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, who spoke about the new research at a conference this week.
“The big benefit would be the ability to continuously monitor health and wellness,” Rogers said. “There’s a lot of interest in personalized medicine and the quantified self, and hardware is key.”