University of Illinois researchers have developed new biodegradable electronics that could make medical implants, environmental monitors and consumer devices that melt away over time in water or body fluids.
Such medical devices might serve as diagnostic tools or programmed drug delivery systems that dissolve in the body over a predetermined time. Their coatings are made of silk like surgical sutures and the electronics are comprised of tiny amounts of harmless metal.
“We refer to this type of technology as transient electronics,” said John A. Rogers, a UI engineering professor who led the multidisciplinary team. “From the earliest days of the electronics industry, a key design goal has been to build devices that last forever – with completely stable performance. But if you think about the opposite possibility – devices that are engineered to physically disappear in a controlled and programmed manner – then other, completely different kinds of application opportunities open up.”