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Silicon-Silk Electronics – embed some LED tattoos where it counts


Science fiction moved a tad closer to our epidermis this month with the announcement that researchers are working on nano-scale electronics which can be embedded in the body using a silk screen carrier. The idea is for this Silicon-Silk patch to biodegrade over time, leaving behind the fully functioning electronics.


Professor Brian Litt, of the University of Pennsylvania where some of the research is being done, believes that the new technology could give rise to a slew of new applications in healthcare and beyond.  One example is to create tiny silicon-silk LED tattoos to display the body’s vital signs such as blood sugar levels. It may not compare with a tattoo of your mum riding a Harley, but hey it’s a start.

 To make the devices, silicon transistors about one millimeter long and 250 nanometers thick are collected on a stamp and then transferred to the surface of a thin film of silk. The silk holds each device in place, even after the array is implanted in an animal and wetted with saline, causing it to conform to the tissue surface. In a paper published in the journal Applied Physics Letters, the researchers report that these devices can be implanted in animals with no adverse effects. And the performance of the transistors on silk inside the body doesn’t suffer.

1 Comment

  • love tattoos. I Have 2 tats and more planned soon.

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