Silk Circuits

Electronic circuits that are transferred onto a thin film of silk can be implanted into biological tissue without being rejected. It is anticipated that this will enable bridging of neural interfaces and a wide variety of cyborg-like applications.

Implantable Silicon-Silk Electronics – []

By building thin, flexible silicon electronics on silk substrates, researchers have made electronics that almost completely dissolve inside the body. So far the research group has demonstrated arrays of transistors made on thin films of silk. While electronics must usually be encased to protect them from the body, these electronics don’t need protection, and the silk means the electronics conform to biological tissue. The silk melts away over time and the thin silicon circuits left behind don’t cause irritation because they are just nanometers thick.

Biodegradable Silicon-Silk Circuits Implanted in Mouse – []

We’ve seen some amazing technology that connects computers to our nervous system: Braingate, epilepsy controlling shock therapy devices, retinal implants, etc. A consistent problem in these devices, or at the least a limitation, is the way in which metal contacts connect to nerve cells. You can place the contact near the nerve, or pierce the nerve with the contact, but getting the two to touch perfectly is difficult. Even when this is accomplished, the long-term compatibility of the metal isn’t always well known or desirable. That’s where silicon-silk circuits could prove very useful. With a biodegradable film that is flexible and dissolves over time, surgeons could get the circuitry much closer to nerves than before, and in harder to reach folds in the brain, without piercing through connecting tissues. Or in a related use, the silk film could be used to produce circuits that rest near the surface of the skin. We could see LEDs that light up when you’re about to have a heart attack, or that usher in the next generation of body-alteration art.

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