Soft Biocompatible Memory Device

Biocompatible electronic devices created by North Carolina State researchers are soft and function well in wet environments. “We’ve created a memory device with the physical properties of Jell-O,” says Dr. Michael Dickey, an assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at NC State.


(Biocompatible electronic devices)

Conventional electronics are typically made of rigid, brittle materials and don’t function well in a wet environment. “Our memory device is soft and pliable, and functions extremely well in wet environments – similar to the human brain,” Dickey says.

Prototypes of the device have not yet been optimized to hold significant amounts of memory, but work well in environments that would be hostile to traditional electronics. The devices are made using a liquid alloy of gallium and indium metals set into water-based gels, similar to gels used in biological research.

The device’s ability to function in wet environments, and the biocompatibility of the gels, mean that this technology holds promise for interfacing electronics with biological systems – such as cells, enzymes or tissue. “These properties may be used for biological sensors or for medical monitoring,” Dickey says.

The device functions much like so-called “memristors,” which are vaunted as a possible next-generation memory technology. The individual components of the “mushy” memory device have two states: one that conducts electricity and one that does not. These two states can be used to represent the 1s and 0s used in binary language. Most conventional electronics use electrons to create these 1s and 0s in computer chips. The mushy memory device uses charged molecules called ions to do the same thing.

In each of the memory device’s circuits, the metal alloy is the circuit’s electrode and sits on either side of a conductive piece of gel. When the alloy electrode is exposed to a positive charge it creates an oxidized skin that makes it resistive to electricity. We’ll call that the 0. When the electrode is exposed to a negative charge, the oxidized skin disappears, and it becomes conducive to electricity. We’ll call that the 1.

Normally, whenever a negative charge is applied to one side of the electrode, the positive charge would move to the other side and create another oxidized skin – meaning the electrode would always be resistive. To solve that problem, the researchers “doped” one side of the gel slab with a polymer that prevents the formation of a stable oxidized skin. That way one electrode is always conducive – giving the device the 1s and 0s it needs for electronic memory.


(Liquid metal forms basis of soft biocompatible memory)

I was also fascinated by the idea that an electronic memory device could have liquid metal components, as it makes me think of one of my favorite movie villains.


(Terminator 2 liquid metal robot)

From Towards All-Soft Matter Circuits: Prototypes of Quasi-Liquid Devices with Memristor Characteristics via MedGadget.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 7/22/2011)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )

Related News Stories - (" Robotics ")

Medical Assistant Robot May Roam The Halls Of Hospitals
'Take care, sir.'

Amplified Nerves Lead To Mind-Controlled Prosthetic Hands
'The electrical impulses generated by your brain command everything...' - Martin Caidin, 1972.

FlyCroTug Micro Drones Do Heavy Lifting
'It extended three of its tiny arms sideways to lock on...' - James P. Hogan, 1979.

China Delivery Robot Development Quickens During COVID-2019 Outbreak
'Something very much like a camouflage-painted kangaroo.' - Bruce Sterling, 1994.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

Another Soil Bacterium Eats Plastic
'...the plastic was dissolved before his eyes.'

reLive Memorial Come Back As A Tree
'It was time - time to go again. She touched the leaf. She was wanted.'

Engineered Living Building Materials
'... it was the cheapest building material known.'

Draw Circuits With Conductive Ink
'It's rewiring things... squeezing silver toothpaste in a ribbon along the printed circuitry.'

Arkangel: Automatic Visual Censoring
It's whatever the Party says it is, Winston.

NASA Competition To Design A Bucket Drum For Moon Mining
'There was a heap of discarded ore where Grantline had carted and dumped it...'

Medical Assistant Robot May Roam The Halls Of Hospitals
'Take care, sir.'

No Autonomous Trucks? Wait, What?
'...it resembled conventional human-operated transportation vehicles, but with one exception -- there was no driver's cabin.'

As Big As A Biltong - World's Largest 3D Printer
'Huge and old, it squatted in the center of the settlement park... On the concrete platform... lay a heap of originals to be duplicated.'

Drones Used To Smuggle Contraband Into Prison
'And some mega chip inside so it never runs into anything and no cop ever sees it.'

Are You Ready For Commercial Space Travel?
'It wasn't a pleasant trip; it was a miserable trip on a miserable, undersized tourist rocket...'

Amplified Nerves Lead To Mind-Controlled Prosthetic Hands
'The electrical impulses generated by your brain command everything...'

FlyCroTug Micro Drones Do Heavy Lifting
'It extended three of its tiny arms sideways to lock on...'

Virtual Whitney Houston In Concert
Badda-Bing, Badda-Bang

Robot Teaches Itself To Walk
'My whole idea is to get away from a machine with a set of prearranged instructions, and let them teach themselves by trial and error.'

DARPA's Subterranean Challenge
Let the machines explore the underground city!

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.