Researchers build featherweight chips that dissolve in water

The chips could one day be applied to the skin, heart or brain to diagnose and treat illnesses

By , IDG News Service |  Hardware

The soluble circuits have less of silicon, magnesium and other minerals than are in a daily vitamin pill, so they are safe in the body, Rogers said. To illustrate his point, he produced and then ate a tiny RF oscillator 5 millimeters across.

One possible application of the soluble electronics is to help prevent infections forming at surgical sites. A device could be implanted in the wound and programmed to emit bursts of heat sufficient to kill off bacteria. Because the device dissolves, there's no need for further surgery -- and further risk of infection -- to remove it.

Soluble electronics could also be used for non-medical purposes, such as environmental monitors at a chemical spill that eventually dissolve. Or they could be used in consumer electronics to reduce hazardous waste.

Rogers received the US$500,000 Lemelson-MIT Prize in 2011 for his work in bio-electronics.

James Niccolai covers data centers and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow James on Twitter at @jniccolai. James's e-mail address is james_niccolai@idg.com

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