An eye on the future

A new type of electronic device that can be programmed to dissolve has promising biomedical applications


Researchers are working on a new type of electronic device that can be programmed to disintegrate.

The development holds potential for the creation of eco-friendly disposable personal electronics and biomedical devices that can dissolve within the body.

In a study published in Science Advances, researchers describe electronics that can be triggered to dissolve through exposure to moisture.

The lifespan of the devices can be changed by controlling the humidity level or the polymer composition. The devices may last anything from days to weeks.

Researchers added functional electronic components onto a film made of the polymer polyanhydride. The device remained stable until ambient moisture triggered a chemical breakdown that digested the inorganic electronic materials and components.  

Aston University’s Professor James Wolffsohn, who was not involved in the study, outlined to OT  that the research held potential applications for eye health.

“This is an interesting discovery that could be refined in future to place sensor electronics on the ocular surface, such as in an eye drop, or even into the eye during surgery to send signals to an external device,” Professor Wolffsohn highlighted.

The device could gauge factors such as tear film osmolarity, intraocular pressure or inflammatory marker levels for a defined period of time before dissolving away, Professor Wolffsohn shared.