New electronic implant softens, grips at body temp

Electronic implants could be used in a variety of ways in the future, most notably being within the field of medicine, where they could provide novel ways to address difficult problems. A consistent problem with the use of electronic implants has been their unforgiving solid nature, something addressed by a team of researchers at the University of Texas at Dallas and the University of Tokyo.

The researchers have developed electronic devices that are hard at room temperature, but once implanted into the body they soften and can grip onto 3D objects, which in this case would be things like nerves, blood vessels, and other internal body structures.

Referred to as "biologically adaptive, flexible transistors", the devices can change shape without compromising their electronic functions, with the shaping taking place after the implant is positioned in the body. By conforming to the living tissue, the body is able to function without trouble from the implant.

The flexibility comes via shape memory polymers, which were developed by one of the researchers, Dr. Walter Voit. Building upon what is already developed, the researchers are looking to add additional sensory components, as well as making the implants smaller overall.