Flexible Circuits Wrap Around Nerves

Researchers have found a way to make circuits flexible enough to implant them into human bodies, enabling us to track a slew of health conditions, and to have the following word entered into the lexicon in 2017:  "It's so nervewrapping!" Right? Are you on board?
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Researchers have found a way to make circuits flexible enough to implant them into human bodies, enabling us to track a slew of health conditions, and to have the following word entered into the lexicon in 2017:  "It's so nervewrapping!" Right? Are you on board?
flexible circuit

Photo Credit: University of Texas

Scientists have been looking for ways to make electronics implantable into human bodies. The only issue has been figuring out how to make circuit boards flexible enough to mold to the human body. Researchers at the University of Texas at Dallas seem to have figured out how to do just that with film transistors that can be wrapped around veins and nerves. 

The circuits in question remain rigid when in room temperature but become flexible as they adjust to body temperatures. During the testing process, the team found that the film transistors could wrap around a vessel as small as 2.25 millimeters in diameter. 

"Scientists and physicians have been trying to put electronics in the body for a while now, but one of the problems is that the stiffness of common electronics is not compatible with biological tissue," said Jonathan Reeder, a graduate student and primary author of the study. "You need the device to be stiff at room temperature so the surgeon can implant the device, but soft and flexible enough to wrap around 3-D objects so the body can behave exactly as it would without the device. By putting electronics on shape-changing and softening polymers, we can do just that."

These circuits could be used to help monitor the health issues by gathering information such as blood pressure heart rate and the progression of diseases. This will only be true, however, if scientists can find a way to make the circuits even more flexible, more reliable and equipped with more sensory capabilities. 

The study will be published in the journal Advanced Materials. Learn more about the flexible circuits in the video below.