Research into transient electronics – devices that expire after a set amount of time – is hotting up.
To create such devices, each component part needs to be reimagined, from circuit board to power supply. Using a combination of dissolvable silicone, magnesium and silk, transient circuitry can be built with a lifespan ranging from hours to years.
Materials scientist John Rogers from the University of Illinois in the US is leading the research in this field, with his research programme Born to Die. “The goal of the electronics industry has always been to build durable devices that last forever with stable performance,” said Rogers, speaking at the American Chemical Society (ACS) conference earlier this year. “But many new opportunities open up once you start thinking about electronics that could disappear in a controlled and programmable way.”
Transient electronic chips could be used in three key applications:
For more examples of how dissolvable technology is infiltrating the packaging industry, see Shape-Shifting Packaging.