A team from University of Illinois has cooked up a circuit that’s made of silicon, magnesium, and magnesium oxide and surrounded by a protective layer of silk which are designed to dissolve in the body in the same way the minor surgeries sutures gets absorbed. They reduce the need to pass or surgically remove tiny medical implants, researchers from Tufts and the University of Illinois write in the current issue of Science.
The researchers used silkworm cocoon silk to control the speed of disintegration. They were able to manipulate the silk’s crystallization thus controlling how long the device will remain solid.The team say that the materials are non-toxic and that in one device they used less of the mineral magnesium than is found in a multivitamin.
It’s thought that the tech could eventually be used to implant monitors that never need removal, reducing invasive medical procedures.
A remarkable feature of modern silicon electronics is its ability to remain physically invariant, almost indefinitely for practical purposes. Although this characteristic is a hallmark of applications of integrated circuits that exist today, there might be opportunities for systems that offer the opposite behavior, such as implantable devices that function for medically useful time frames but then completely disappear via resorption by the body. We report a set of materials, manufacturing schemes, device components, and theoretical design tools for a silicon-based complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) technology that has this type of transient behavior, together with integrated sensors, actuators, power supply systems, and wireless control strategies. An implantable transient device that acts as a programmable nonantibiotic bacteriocide provides a system-level example. -Abstract