Implantable Body Electronics Soften Up, Grip Tissue

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Electronics are stiff. Bodies bend. One of the biggest challenges for wearable and implantable medical devices is to get them to flex. So far, they don’t.

But a team at UT Dallas in collaboration with the University of Tokyo has come up with an electronic device that’s stiff at room temperature but then gets soft when implanted inside a warm body. In it’s flexible state, it can conform to tissue, organs, nerves and blood vessels.

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Such a device could be used like a sensor to monitor bodily functions or stimulate different areas as part of a treatment.

Graduate student in materials science and engineering Jonathan Reeder created the flexible electronics by laminate and curing shape memory polymers on top of transistors.

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Outside the body, the device can be handled easily for placement inside the body. Once inside the body, the materials warms and becomes soft. The scientists tested their electronic device in rats and found that after implantation, the device morphed with living tissue.

Credit: UT Dallas