From the folds and crinkles of a living brain, a fleeting fleck of electronics smaller than a grain of rice can wirelessly relay critical health information and then gently fade away.
The transient sensors, which can measure pressure, temperature, pH, motion, flow, and potentially specific biomolecules, stand to permanently improve patient care, researchers said. With a wireless, dissolving sensor, doctors could ditch the old versions that require tethering patients to medical equipment and performing invasive surgery to remove, which adds risks of infections and complications to already vulnerable patients.
The devices can also be customized with different types of sensors and coatings. The thicker the coating, the longer they take to dissolve, Murphy explained. The current versions can last for a few days in biofluids, including cerebrospinal fluid, at physiological temperature. But, Murphy said, the researchers are hoping to make versions that can last for weeks.
In a brain, dissolvable electronics monitor health and then vanish