Alicia Jackson

Sometime in the near future, the military may begin using tiny, dissolvable electronic devices to help wounded soldiers to fight off infection. The technology opens potentials beyond the battlefield, allowing wider use of sensors and a variety of short-term medical applications as well as providing new ways to fight infection in existing surgical implants.

Developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Defense Department’s research and development shop, these “transient” electronic devices are designed to dissolve when exposed to water and can last for weeks, days or even minutes. The electronic components are made of superthin sheets of silicon and magnesium sheathed in silk. Silk is biocompatible, which means that it can be inserted safely into the body. How long a device lasts is determined by the thickness and crystalinity of the silk. Keep reading →