Researchers Develop Implantable, Disposable Health Technology

Here today, gone tomorrow. That’s what a group of scientists say they have achieved in developing tiny silicon electronics that can dissolve and be absorbed harmlessly into the body after serving a short-term medical purpose.

The scientists’ report, published online this week by the journal Science, raises the specter of new types of implantable medical devices that can fight germs at the source or deliver drugs for a set time before disappearing. The article, available to subscribers, is entitled “A Physically Transient Form of Silicon Electronics.”

In the article abstract, the researchers described their discovery as a silicon-based complementary metal oxide semiconductor technology, combined with integrated sensors, actuators, power supply systems and wireless control strategies.

"You can imagine biomedical devices that get implanted in the body, monitor or affect a healing process, and after that healing is completed, they simply disappear, eliminating the need to fish them out again," lead researcher John Rogers, a materials scientist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, told TechNewsDaily for an article published Thursday.

The devices created for the experiment were coated with silk and generated heat to fight post-surgical infection, according to an article in Medical Daily. The devices worked for more than a week while implanted in mice before the coating began to dissolve, Medical Daily reported. It had completely dissolved after three weeks.