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Tomorrow's Degradable Electronics


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In the future, electronics should be soluble in water and disappear after a few hours.

Norwegian researchers are developing electronics that disappear to order.

Credit: Werner Juvik/SINTEF

SINTEF researchers in Norway say they have successfully made components containing magnesium circuits designed to transfer energy that are soluble in water and disappear after a few hours.

The new circuit is printed on a silicon wafer and is only a few nanometers thick, enabling it to dissolve more quickly. The researchers say they now have to find a coating or film that will act as a protective packaging around the circuits.

"Lithium generates a technical problem for our lab, so we're considering alternatives, including a variety of plastics," says SINTEF researcher Geir Uri Jensen. "In order to achieve this, we've brought in some materials scientists here at SINTEF who are very skilled in this field."

The nature of the coating must be tailored to the time at which the electronics are required to degrade, which is just one week in some cases. "When the external fluids penetrate to the 'guts' inside the packaging, the circuits begin to degrade," notes SINTEF's Karsten Husby. "The job must be completed before this happens."

The researchers use horizontal and vertical etching processes in the lab to deposit all of the layers onto the silicon circuits.

From SINTEF
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