McCormick School of Engineering, Northwestern University
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Yonggang Huang’s Vanishing Electronics Featured on Discovery News
Yonggang Huang, Joseph Cummings Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Mechanical Engineering, and his collaborators developed “transient electronics,” which physically vanish over time in a well-controlled manner and at a prescribed time, dissolving when they react with water. A magnesium oxide encapsulation layer and silk overcoat envelops the electronics, and the thickness determines how long the system will take to disappear into its environment.
Such electronics could be useful as medical devices implanted inside the human body to monitor such things as temperature or brain, heart and muscle tissue activity, to apply thermal therapy or to deliver drugs. They could also be used to monitor the environment. The results were featured on Discovery News.
"If you think of applications like environmental monitors, it's hard to find the manpower to go out and get data," Huang said in the article. "This way, you can read the device, monitor the environment for three months, six months or one year and then the device dissolves by itself. It doesn't have any long-term adverse effect of the environment."