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Vanishing Electronics: Coming Soon To A Body Near You

An ultrathin device that dissolves in certain environments could be the answer to the growing problem of electronics waste.

Its creators refer to it as transient electronics and claim that the discovery could pave the way for medical implants that dissolve after a certain amount of time, negating the need for multiple surgical procedures or dissolving cellphones. It means less landfill stuffed with dead gadgets.

The device is made from a strip of silicon with a tiny magnesium oxide circuit on it. Wrapped in a thin layer of silk to protect it initially from body fluids, the researchers found that, after three weeks, once the silk had been harmlessly absorbed by the body, the device broke down and vanished without a trace.

One of the researchers behind the breakthrough, Youggang Hang, of Northwestern University, described it as a completely new concept. "These electronics are there when you need them, and after they've served their purpose they completely disappear."