On a simple coffee table sits an inexpensive commercial laser cutter, usually meant for modifying wood or plastic.
On a simple coffee table sits an inexpensive commercial laser cutter, usually meant for modifying wood or plastic. However, in the lab of University of Chicago scientists Vishnu Nair and Bozhi Tian, what comes out is not engraved wood but a small bioelectronic device that could save lives.
It all starts with a compound called polydimethylsiloxane, or PDMS, which is a type of elastomer—a very elastic, stretchable material. However, a laser can transform the PDMS into a dense silicon carbide layer that is useful for electronics.
This property can be used to sculpt bioelectronics in a way that is cheaper and easier than traditional fabrication, while being easy to scale up to make in large quantities—a must for any product to be manufactured for common use.
“It’s a new paradigm in bioelectronics,” said Nair, a UChicago graduate student and lead author of a new paper published August 21 in the journal Science Advances. “This technology could potentially be scaled up to create high-quality human pacemakers or other medical applications."
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Image via Chuanwang Yang.