The electronics industry is one of the biggest contributors to landfills that are making our planet more toxic by the day. However, developers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have come up with a new class of electronics that can dissolve after a pre-set time. Dubbed Transient electronics, this new kind of electronics are fashioned out of silicon and silk and are sturdy enough to withstand conditions in our bodies and environments though they can seamlessly dissolvable once their job is done.
The researchers behind the project used magnesium electrodes, ultrathin porous silicon sheets and circuits made from silk to create these electronics that can dissolve in water in a matter of minutes. The innovation was first tested on a rodent where researchers created a biomedical silk implant doped with an antibacterial compound. This implant was programmed to dissolve as it came in contact with bodily fluids releasing the drugs. After three weeks, the previously infected surgical site appeared to have healed considerably with only minimal residue from the implant.
If perfected for use in everyday devices, transient electronics can be used to make digital cameras, antennas, radio oscillators, solar cells, photodetectors, strain and temperature sensors, wireless power coils, diodes, transient transistors and any other kind of electronic equipment that would be pre-programmed to dissolve once it has outlived its useful life.