Scientists are continuing to make huge breakthroughs ranging from developing effective methods for enabling the use of thoughts as passwords to creating tiny needles that can be swallowed. Now researchers at Harvard University and National Center for Nanoscience and Technology have developed tiny electronics that are stretchy and bendy that can be injected into the brain using a syringe. The electronics are also flexible to enable them to be implanted inside body tissues and on the surface of specific organs like the brain non-invasively to aid in biomonitoring of tissue or organ performance.
Previously, nanoelectronics could only be implanted using invasive surgical techniques, but the new technology allows for the electronics to be implanted simply by injecting them using a 0.1 millimeter needle mounted on a normal syringe. Once the nanoelectronics have been injected into the tissue, it will take them roughly one hour to start their biomonitoring activity. “Once rolled up and loaded into a syringe – which can have a diameter as small as 100 micrometers – the electrical components can be injected into cavities or specific regions of living tissues. After the jab, as the needle is withdrawn, the electronics unfold to about 80% of their original configuration – with no loss of function”, reported IFL Science.
“Flexible electronics provide a means for conforming electronics to non-planar surfaces, yet targeted delivery of flexible electronics to internal regions remains difficult. Here, we overcome this challenge by demonstrating the syringe injection (and subsequent unfolding) of sub-micrometre-thick, centimetre-scale macroporous mesh electronics through needles with a diameter as small as 100??m”, wrote Liu et al in the abstract about their work posted at Nature.
Some of the functions of injectable tiny electronics would be to monitor brain function. To demonstrate this, the researchers were able to inject the mesh needles in anaesthetized mice in two distinct brain regions – the lateral ventricle and the hippocampus. The behaviour of the electronics were then monitored over a five weeks period and the mice didn’t react against the tiny electronics by inducing immune response, whereas the bendable electronic components showed ability to network with the mice’s healthy neurons. The other useful biomedical applications would include “checking electrophysiological signals related to epilepsy and arrhythmia”.