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Implantable Medical Chip Would Resolve Health Problems and Then Melt Away

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What if doctors could implant a medical device in your body that would melt and help eliminate a host of problems? It might sound like a sci-fi movie, but it could be the next big thing in technology. These ultra thin devices have already been developed in the U.S. and are programmed to accomplish their role in the body and then melt away once they are done.

The new technology has already been used to fight infections in the body by heating the surrounding area up to kill bacteria. The components are made up of silicon and magnesium oxide and are wrapped up in silk. They are part of a field called "transient electronics", and are very different from other types of technology that are meant to be durable and stable over time. Getting the electronics to fade at the right time is complicated and relies on the outside shell of the device. Since the device is made of silicon, it will already dissolve in water but the problem is that the size of the devices would mean that the melting promise could take an eternity. The researchers resolved this problem by incorporating a silk casing, which controls the speed of the melting.

Scientists are hopeful to use the devices for a range of health problems including healing wounds after surgery, to slowly release drugs into the body, or to build sensors for the brain and heart. Another unique idea for the "melting" devices is to use them in cellphones and other electronics where they would melt over time rather than sit in landfills for an eternity.