The Loh Down On Science

Dissolving Devices

Don't have a heart attack—but one day your pacemaker could just dissolve!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science, saying, but that could be a good thing—like if it dissolved because you didn't need it anymore?  

An international team of scientists has created ultrathin electronic devices that do just that.  These biodegradable electronics disappear when they're no longer needed. The inventors say the lifespan of these devices can be fine-tuned for as long as you need them.

How?  The scientists made disposable circuits by combining silicon, which is used in everything electronica, with magnesium and silk. The silk is key—it's often used for medical sutures that can melt away once the healing is done. The more time you need, the more silk you use.

In the devices' case, dissolving can be triggered multiple ways: with water, heat, even specific enzymes.

Once they dissolve, the body simply disposes of them in the usual way.

Giving a whole new meaning to the term “electronic waste.”

The Loh Down on Science is produced by LDOS Media Lab, with 89.3 KPCC Pasadena, California. And made possible by the generous support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

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