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.