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Researchers Develop Featherweight Chips That Dissolve in Water

By IDG News Service

December 12, 2012

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University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign researchers have developed integrated circuits that can stick to the skin and in some cases dissolve in water when they are no longer needed.

University of Illinois professor John Rogers says the "bio chips" can be worn comfortably on the body to help diagnose and treat illness. He notes the circuits are made from silicon sliced a nanometer thick which become a "floppy" membrane that can bend and twist. The circuits can be applied like a child's temporary tattoo by laying them on the skin and washing off a thin, soluble backing. The researchers also say they are developing "transient" circuits that are 35-nanometers thick and will dissolve in about two weeks.

Rogers says the bio chips contain less silicon, magnesium, and other minerals than are in a daily vitamin pill, so they are safe in the body. The researchers suggest that soluble electronics could be used to help prevent infections from forming at surgical sites, or for non-medical purposes, such as environmental monitors at a chemical spill.

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