As consumers we want our electronic gadgets to be durable. But as patients, we might want them to dissolve - inside our bodies.
The medical device looks like a computer chip
In the experiment, the devices - which look like tiny computer chips - were designed to generate heat, a potential strategy for fighting infection after surgery by killing germs, said John Rogers of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne, an author of the study.
The devices worked in the mice for more than a week, until their silk coatings dissolved enough for bodily fluids to erode key parts of the devices, he said. After three weeks, the tiny gadgets had basically disappeared.
Someday for people, similar devices might be programmed to monitor the body and release drugs accordingly, or produce electric current to accelerate bone healing, Rogers said.
The researchers used the protective cocoon envelope because silk can be processed to stay intact for varying periods of time - from seconds to weeks and potentially for years, he said. The device's circuitry itself was built from other materials that degrade in the body, such as magnesium and silicon.
The federally funded research was reported online in the journal Science.
Apart from medicine, the technology offers a way to cut down on electronic waste, or E-waste, if portable consumer devices could be made with decomposing components, the researchers wrote.
And there are other potential uses, too Rogers suggested. For example, such devices could be scattered near a chemical spill to monitor things like chemical concentrations without any need to retrieve them later.
Tags: Medical Gadgets , Medical Dissolving Gadgets , Medicine , Medical Technology , Science , Science and Technology , Medical Science , Dissolving Gadgets , Gadgets Dissolving into bodies , Electronic Waste , E-Waste , E Waste
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