These implantable shape changing transistors can grip nerves and tissues,
changing shape within the body, while still maintaining their electronic
properties (Photo: UT Dallas)
result of a collaboration between scientists at the University of Tokyo, Japan
and The University of Texas, Dallas, the soft transistors are being designed to
change shape in ways that are more biologically compatible.
"Scientists and physicians have been trying to put electronics in the body for a
while now, but one of the problems is that the stiffness of common electronics
is not compatible with biological tissue," says Jonathan Reeder, the study's
lead author. "You need the device to be stiff at room temperature so the surgeon
can implant the device, but soft and flexible enough to wrap around 3D objects
so the body can behave exactly as it would without the device."
get the device to behave accordingly, the group integrated the electronics into
softening and shape-changing polymer material and also added layers of flexible
electronic foils. In their normal state outside the body, the transistors are
rigid. Once implanted, they become soft when heated and can flex to grip living
used a new technique in our field to essentially laminate and cure the shape
memory polymers on top of the transistors," said the team's Dr. Walter Voit. "In
our device design, we are getting closer to the size and stiffness of precision
biologic structures, but have a long way to go to match nature’s amazing
complexity, function and organization.”
tests conducted in rats, the scientists heated the implanted transistors to get
them to grip a cylinder 2.25 mm (0.08 in) in diameter. The device maintained its
electronic properties, the researchers reported, even after it had wrapped
itself around tissue.
group's overall goal is to engineer shape changing electronic devices whose
presence within the body is less intrusive as an alternative to flexible
plastic-based electronic devices that continue to hold on to their shape and
stiffness. Moving forward, the researchers plan to equip these soft electronics
with more sensors and shrink the device's size to enable it to flex around even
research is due for publication in the print version of Advanced
out a video of the transistor flexing around an object.
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