Transient electronics dissolve on command

1 min read

Researchers at Iowa State University are the latest to shift their focus to the area of transient electronics.

While previous research has explored the use of transient materials to create dissolvable devices such as transistors, diodes and resistors, the Iowa State team's goal is to investigate how the rate of transiency can be controlled. The team, led by Reza Montazami, began by experimenting with biodegradable and transient insulating polymer films. They found that dissolution was slowed when gelatine was added into the mix, and sped up with the addition of sucrose. The researchers used the special polymers were used to create a degradable antenna capable of data transmission. They are now working to develop transient LEDs and transistors. "Investigation of electronic devices based on transient electronics is a new and rarely addressed technology with paramount potentials in both medical and military applications," Montazami said. The researchers believe the technology has a range of real-world applications. It could enable credit cards and mobile phones to self-destruct when reported lost, they say, and even allow medical devices to harmlessly melt away inside a person's body once the job is done. Montazami says the application for transient electronics with the most potential lies in the military. Wounded soldiers captured by the enemy could trigger their electronics to melt away, he says, securing highly sensitive military information. Or, a military device could collect and send its data and then dissolve away, leaving no trace of an intelligence mission. The video below shows how the technology works. A blue LED mounted on a polymer base begins to dissolve and the light goes out when it comes into contact with just a drop of water.