John Rogers, professor at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and cofounder of MC10, the company commercializing his flexible electronic technology (see flashbacks below), is truly helping to take surgery into the future. The latest out of his lab are electronic sutures with built-in temperature sensors and an integrated heating mechanism.
In a recent study published in journal Small, Rogers and team successfully used the novel sutures on laboratory animals, demonstrating that the electronic components functioned well after all the stress and strain that common sutures are put through.
Technology Review‘s summary of the technology in the new sutures:
The researchers first use chemicals to slice off an ultrathin film of silicon from a silicon wafer. With a rubber stamp, they lift off and transfer the nanomembranes to polymer or silk strips. Then they deposit metal electrodes and wires on top and encapsulate the entire device in an epoxy coating.
They have built two types of temperature sensors on the sutures. One is a silicon diode that shifts its current output with temperature; the other, a platinum nanomembrane resistor, changes its resistance with temperature. The micro-heaters, meanwhile, are simply gold filaments that heat up when current passes through them.
More at Technology Review: Smart Sutures That Detect Infections…
Flashbacks: Medgadget Visits MC10 Labs, Interviews Scientists Developing Flexible Electronics (video); David Icke on MC10′s Flexible Electronics at TEDMED 2012; Sticky News: Electronic Skin Patch Promises Simpler Monitoring; FutureMed: Taking Electronics Out of the Proverbial Box