- Tram Ho
Electronic devices are increasingly miniaturized and open up some exciting possibilities when it comes to what we can put in our bodies to monitor and improve our health. Engineers at Columbia University have demonstrated an incredible version of this technology, developing the smallest single chip system ever created, implanted in a hypodermic needle to measure internal body temperature, and maybe more than that.
From ladybug-sized implants that monitor oxygen levels in tissues deep in the body to tiny sensors that monitor nerve signals in real time, scientists are making big strides. when it comes to the functionality of tiny electronic devices. The implant, developed by Columbia Engineers, represents a breakthrough as the world’s smallest single chip system, a fully functional electronic circuit with a total volume of less than 0.1 mm3.
At that size, it is as small as a dust mite and can only be seen under a microscope. The tiny chip requires some special way of communicating and being powered.
Small electronic devices may have radio frequency (RF) modules to transmit and receive electromagnetic radio signals, but these wavelengths are too large to be used with such a small device. this. On the other hand, ultrasonic wavelengths are much smaller at a given frequency, because the speed of sound is much smaller than the speed of light that electromagnetic waves travel. So the team incorporated a piezoelectric transducer that acts as an “antenna” for wireless power and ultrasonic communication.
This combines with an onboard low-power temperature sensor to turn the chip into a probe for real-time thermal sensing, allowing it to monitor both body temperature and temperature fluctuations due to therapeutic application of ultrasound waves. The implant’s capabilities were demonstrated in live mice, where it was used to stimulate nerves with ultrasonic waves, and up to seven chips were implanted in mice at once by injection.
The scientists imagine these chips would be implanted in the human body, and then wirelessly communicate what they’re measuring through ultrasound waves. In its current form, this is limited to body temperature, but other possibilities including blood pressure, sugar levels and respiratory function are expected to emerge in the future.
” We wanted to see how far we could push the limits of the performance of a small chip, ” said Ken Shepard, lead researcher on the research team . This is a new idea of ’chip as a system’ – a chip that alone, nothing else, is a complete operational electronic system, used in clinical applications, and ultimately The same has been approved for human use. “
Source : Genk