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Unformatted text preview: 10 EMERGING TECHNOLOGIES 58 TECHNOLOGY REVIEW MAY/JUNE 2010 T he next generation of implantable medical devices will rely on a high- tech material forged not in the foundry but in the belly of a worm. Tufts Uni- versity biomedical engineer Fiorenzo Omenetto is using silk as the basis for implantable optical and electronic devices that will act like a combination vital-sign monitor, blood test, imaging center, and pharmacyand will safely break down when no longer needed. Implanted electronics could pro- vide a clearer picture of whats going on inside the body to help monitor chronic diseases or progress after surgery, but biocompatibility issues restrict their use. Many materials commonly used in elec- tronics cause immune reactions when implanted. And in most cases todays implantable devices must be surgically replaced or removed at some point, so its only worth using an implant for critical devices such as pacemakers. Silk, how- ever, is biodegradable and soft; it carries light like optical glass; and while it cant be made into a transistor or an electrical wire, it can serve as a mechanical support for arrays of electrically active devices, allowing them to sit right on top of bio- logical tissues without causing irritation. Depending on how its processed, silk can be made to break down inside the body almost instantly or to persist for Dissolvable devices make better medical implants Implantable Electronics Flexible silicon electronics are held in place with a silk fi lm....
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This note was uploaded on 02/08/2011 for the course MGT 3743 taught by Professor Staff during the Fall '10 term at Georgia Institute of Technology.
- Fall '10