Feeds

Boffins working on biodegradable flexi LED implants

Silky hand-tattoo displays to replace watches, PDAs?

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Boffins in America are working on biodegradable, flexible electronic devices printed on silk, which could be implanted in the human body and would decay naturally over time. Applications could include LED displays inlaid beneath the skin, or direct nerve-controlled interfaces.

MIT Tech Review reports on the new in-body tech, which is seen as much more practical and less invasive than current implants. These have rigid structures and have to be "canned" or encased to protect them from body fluids and vice versa.

Rather, Professor Brian Litt of Pennsylvania Uni plans to build devices laid on flexible, foldable, rollable thin silk sheets. The silk backing is gradually absorbed without difficulty by the body - Litt and his fellow boffins can design for a period of months or years as required - leaving only microscopic amounts of silicon, as the circuitry is only nanometres thick. Silicon is "biocompatible" rather than "biodegradable", but in such tiny amounts it isn't an issue.

All this means that an electronic device can be rolled up or folded and slipped into place through a relatively small incision. Litt and his colleagues believe they will soon have working silk-backed LEDs, for instance, allowing one to have an LED "tattoo" beneath one's skin able to display anything from the time to one's current blood-sugar count.

Other ploys might include connections to the nerves, perhaps wirelessly linked to computers or other devices. Other researchers have also proposed using such hookups to "jumpwire" past broken or damaged nerve connections, so restoring control over a paralysed limb.

The flexibility of wetted silk might even allow circuitry to conform to the contours of the brain, according to the scientists, perhaps allowing deep-brain stimulation techniques of the sort used to keep Parkinson's disease under control.

Obstacles that lie ahead before we all get our under-skin bluetooth OLED displays, brain-to-computer direct interfaces, nerve jumpwire links and so on include the elimination of gold and titanium from the flexi-circuitry tech, and in many cases the matter of power supplies.

"It would be nice to see the sophistication of [implant] devices start to catch up with the sophistication of our basic science, and this technology could really close that gap," Litt told Tech Review. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Nexus 7 fandroids tell of salty taste after sucking on Google's Lollipop
Web giant looking into why version 5.0 of Android is crippling older slabs
All aboard the Poo Bus! Ding ding, route Number Two departing
Only another three days of pooing and I can have a ride!
Heyyy! NICE e-bracelet you've got there ... SHAME if someone were to SUBPOENA it
Court pops open cans of worms and whup-ass in Fitbit case
Official: European members prefer to fondle Apple iPads
Only 7 of 50 parliamentarians plump for Samsung Galaxy S
Fujitsu CTO: We'll be 3D-printing tech execs in 15 years
Fleshy techie disses network neutrality, helmet-less motorcyclists
Space Commanders rebel as Elite:Dangerous kills offline mode
Frontier cops an epic kicking in its own forums ahead of December revival
The IT Crowd's internet in a box gets $240k of crowdcash for a cause
'Outernet' project proposes satellite-fuelled 'Lantern' WiFi library for remote areas
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Internet Security Threat Report 2014
An overview and analysis of the year in global threat activity: identify, analyze, and provide commentary on emerging trends in the dynamic threat landscape.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.