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Hugging the heart electronically
Date:3/24/2010

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Rogers and Litt are senior authors of the paper. Rogers is the Flory-Founder Chair Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at Illinois; Litt is associate professor of neurology and associate professor of bioengineering at Penn.

In the experiments conducted at Penn, the team demonstrated that the electronics continue to operate when immersed in the body's fluids, and the mechanical design allows the device to conform to and wrap around the body's irregularly shaped tissues. The device uses 288 contact points and more than 2,000 transistors positioned closely together. Standard clinical systems usually have only five to 10 contact points. (The new device is 14.4 millimeters by 12.8 millimeters, roughly the size of a nickel.)

By bringing electronic circuits right to the tissue, rather than having them located remotely, the device can process signals right at the tissue. This close contact allows the device to have a much higher number of electrodes for sensing or stimulation than is currently possible in medical devices.

The device can collect very large amounts of data from the body, at high speed. Researchers will be able to map the body's complicated electrical networks in much more detail, with more effective implantable medical devices and treatments likely to emerge.

The current device is not wireless. The next big step in this new generation of implantable devices, say the researchers, will be to find a way to move the power source onto them. One solution could be to have the heart power the device.

Huang and Rogers' so-called "pop-up" technology allows circuits to bend, stretch and twist. Such electronics can be used in places where flat, unbending electronics would fail, like the heart, brain or other places on the human body.

Any significant bending or stretching to circuits renders an electronic device useless, which is what limits current electronics for use on the body. Huang and
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Contact: Megan Fellman
fellman@northwestern.edu
847-491-3115
Northwestern University
Source:Eurekalert

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