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Next ­p: Environmentally Safe Electronics That Also Vanish in the Body

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Biodegradable integrated circuit

A biodegradable integrated circuit during dissolution in water.

Credit: Beckman Institute, University of Illinois and Tufts University

University of Illinois researchers say they have developed biodegradable electronics technology that could lead to new design paradigms for a wide range of applications.

"From the earliest days of the electronics industry, a key design goal has been to build devices that last forever--with completely stable performance," says Illinois professor John A. Rogers. "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."

The technology consists of a combination of soluble conductors and dielectrics, based on magnesium and magnesium oxide, which provide a platform for building a wide range of biodegradable electronic components, sensors, and wireless devices. The researchers already have built transient transistors, diodes, wireless power coils, temperature and strain sensors, photodetectors, solar cells, radio oscillators, and antennas. The researchers say all of the devices are biocompatible, extremely thin, and dissolve in water.

"The different applications that we are considering require different operating time frames," Rogers notes. "The ability to use materials science to engineer those time frames becomes a critical aspect in design."

From University of Illinois News Bureau 
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