What's Up UA? - Electronics that Dissolve in the Body - The Explorer: University Of Arizona

What's Up UA? - Electronics that Dissolve in the Body

Print
Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Friday, December 21, 2012 6:45 pm

It sounds like science fiction – but it’s real.

Scientists at four universities are collaborating to develop “transient electronics” – the precise opposite of electronics designed with the goal of lasting forever. These are biodegradable electronics that can vanish into nothingness.

This breakthrough technology was recently featured in the journal Science.

The University of Arizona member of the research team is Dr. Marvin J. Slepian, practicing cardiologist and professor of medicine in the Sarver Heart Center. He also has a joint appointment in the UA biomedical engineering department.

Water Soluble Circuits

Slepian said biodegradable electronics evolved from previous research on stretchable electronic circuits that could be placed on balloon catheters for cardiovascular treatments. Then the researchers decided to take that technology a step further and make it altogether biodegradable. They developed a toolbox of totally biodegradable components made of silicon, magnesium and silk that dissolve in minute amounts of water or other fluids.

Silicon is the industry standard for integrated circuits. It is the semiconductor material. Silicon normally does not dissolve well in water or biofluids – yet when hammered into ultra-thin flexible sheets, it will completely dissolve. The end product is silicic acid, a well-known nutritional supplement.

Magnesium is the conductor. Magnesium is water soluble – and a common ingredient in multivitamin tablets.

Silk is used to encapsulate the circuits. It also is water soluble – but the dissolution rate can be controlled – so the electronics package could potentially be immersed in water or biofluids for a year or more without completely dissolving.

The Start of a Medical Revolution

Biodegradable electronics could not only revolutionize medicine – but also environmental monitoring and consumer electronics. Transient electronics could sense and measure key parameters of a chemical spill, transmit data, then ultimately degrade, leaving no ecological impact. Antiquated smart phones and other portable devises could potentially be dissolved, rather than ending up in the landfill.

But Slepian is most excited about the medical applications. He collaborates with researchers at the University of Illinois, Tufts University and Northwestern University. 

In laboratory studies they’ve already successfully used transient electronics to monitor and prevent bacterial infection in surgical incisions. Surgical infections are a leading cause of re-admission to hospitals.

Other applications could include delivering regulated dosages of drugs, monitoring kidney or lung function, even catheters that dissolve. Green biomedical technologies ultimately could significantly reduce medical waste.

“We are thinking about marrying this technology with existing devices – for example the total artificial heart,” Slepian said. “Ideally we’d like to be able to implant transient electronic sensors along with the devise to keep track of the blood pressure in the pulmonary artery or the aorta for the first two weeks after surgery. This would help immensely with the management of such patients.”

In addition to his UA positions, Slepian is co-founder and chief scientific officer of SynCardia Systems, the Tucson manufacturer of the first and only FDA-approved total artificial heart. He has a long history of research and development with biodegradable biomaterials. In the late 1980s, he introduced the prototype for the first form of biodegradable stenting.

But that’s what you’d expect from the kid who built a heart-lung machine for his seventh-grade science project. He still has it in his library.

“I’ve had a long background in entrepreneurship and I’ve started a lot of companies – more than a dozen,” Slepian said. At the Eller College of Management, “I teach a class on Innovation Translation and Medical Entrepreneurship based on the 25 years of experience that I have in doing this and seeing how you can convert an idea into reality.”

 

© 2014 The Explorer. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Welcome to the discussion.

Kino College

Kino CollegeEnroll today: http://www.kinocollege.com/

Thursday 10/02/2014

What's Up UA? - Ready for a Super-Fast Internet? UA Scientists Are Fast at Work on It

Tuesday 09/30/2014

What's Up UA? - Using the Force: UA Police Officer Completes NASA Project

Monday 09/29/2014

What's Up UA? - How New Social Movements Take Root

Friday 09/26/2014

What's Up UA? - PBS 'NewsHour' to Feature Inspirational UA Student

Wednesday 09/24/2014

What's Up UA? - UA Paves Way to Redefine STEM Education

Monday 09/22/2014

What's Up UA? - Wildcats Rally, Hail Mary TD Defeats Cal, 49-45

Thursday 09/18/2014

What's Up UA? - When Job Loss Equals Weight Gain

Monday 09/15/2014

What's Up UA? - Don’t Underestimate Your Mind’s Eye

Thursday 09/11/2014

What's Up UA? - 'What I Wish I Had Known as a Freshman'

Tuesday 09/09/2014

What's Up UA? - UA Undergraduate Researchers Take to the Radio

Thursday 09/04/2014

What's Up UA? - Send Your Tweet – and Your Name – to an Asteroid

Tuesday 09/02/2014

What's Up UA? - Brown Foundations' $2.5 Million Kicks Off Catapult Corp

Thursday 08/28/2014

What's Up UA? - New Veterinary Degree Program Made Possible by $9M Gift is Critical for State

Monday 08/25/2014

What's Up UA? - Laser 'Lightning Rods' Channel Electricity Through Thin Air

Thursday 08/21/2014

What's Up UA? - UA Fall Enrollment Sets Record for Diversity, Number of Freshmen

Tuesday 08/19/2014

What's Up UA? - Remarkable Résumé: UA Student Journalist's Career Includes CNN, NYT Phoenix

Friday 08/15/2014

What's Up UA? - Through Innovative Partnership, 'Hot Shot' Team Tackles Yuma Produce Perils

Wednesday 08/13/2014

What's Up UA? - The UA Named a Top College by The Princeton Review

Monday 08/11/2014

What's Up UA? - UA Researchers Study Increasing Lifespan and Immune Function What's Up UA? - UA Undergrads Conducting Microgravity Research Aboard NASA's G-Force One

Monday 06/09/2014

What's up UA? - UA to Host U.S. and Mexico Officials Exploring Collaborations in Education, Innovation, Research

Thursday 06/05/2014

What's Up UA? - New Wilderness Medicine Class Hones Patient Care Skills in Rugged Conditions

Tuesday 06/03/2014

Track Cats Send Eight Athletes to TrackTown USA

Monday 06/02/2014

What's Up UA? - Bringing a Spacecraft Back From the Dead

Friday 05/30/2014

What's Up UA? - Heart Attack Patient Defies Odds with Tailored Surgical Treatment at UA Medical Center

Thursday 05/29/2014

What's Up UA? - UA Marketing Students Win National AT&T Competition

Tuesday 05/27/2014

What's Up UA? - Scientists Discover Genetic Basis of Pest Resistance to Biotech Cotton

Friday 05/23/2014

What's up UA? - Four UA Students Picked for Pat Tillman Foundation Scholarships

Wednesday 05/21/2014

What's Up UA? - Scientists Discover Genetic Basis of Pest Resistance to Biotech Cotton

Monday 05/19/2014

What's Up UA? - UA Tunnels Get Carbon Fiber Makeover

Thursday 05/15/2014

What's Up UA? - Earning a UA Degree, in a Grandfather’s Memory

Tuesday 05/13/2014

What's Up UA? - UA's Phoenix Cancer Center is 'Topped Off,' Joins Award-Winning Medical School Building

Thursday 05/08/2014

What's Up UA? - University of Arizona to Offer Nation’s First Bachelor of Arts in Law

Monday 05/05/2014

What's Up UA? - UA Combating Health Disparities to Build Healthier Communities

Wednesday 04/30/2014

What's Up UA? - Scientists at the UA Make Critical End-Stage Liver Disease Discovery

Friday 04/25/2014

What's Up UA? - A Century-Long Track Record of Serving Arizona and Benefiting the State's Economy

Wednesday 04/23/2014

What's Up UA? - UA Opens Nation’s First Resource Center for Student Vets Studying Health Care UA Wildcat Instant Decision Days at PCC campuses April 29-May 2

Monday 04/21/2014

What's Up UA? - UA Scientists to Begin Construction on NASA Spacecraft that will Visit Asteroid in 2018

Thursday 04/10/2014

What's Up UA? - Spring Fling Celebrates 40th Anniversary With Return to UA Mall

Monday 04/07/2014

Mauga’s Walkoff Sweeps Stanford

Thursday 04/03/2014

What's Up UA? - 4-H Programs Bring Enrichment and Learning to Thousands in Arizona

Monday 03/31/2014

What's Up UA? - The Viruses You Don't Know About (Yet)

Tuesday 03/25/2014

What's Up UA? - Twice Torn Apart: A UA Alumna's Road to the Paralympic Games

Tuesday 03/18/2014

What's Up UA? - Tucson Village Farm Honored as Model Program for the Nation

Friday 03/14/2014

What's Up UA? - Several UA Graduate Programs Reach New Heights

Tuesday 03/11/2014

What's Up UA? - Olympics Interns Share Sochi Experiences

Friday 03/07/2014

What's Up UA? - Seeing Cancer Differently

Wednesday 03/05/2014

What's Up UA? - UA Offers Accelerated Bachelor's to Master’s Program in Environmental Health Sciences

Tuesday 03/04/2014

What's Up UA? - Third-Ranked Men's Basketball Heads to Corvallis to Face OSU
Spacer4px

Follow us on Facebook

Online poll

Loading…