r / gadgets – Tiny wireless injectable chips use ultrasound to monitor bodily processes

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Widely used to monitor and map biological signals, to support and improve physiological functions, and to treat disease, implantable medical devices are transforming healthcare and improving the quality of life for millions of people. Researchers are increasingly interested in the design of wireless miniaturized implantable medical devices for physiological monitoring in vivo and in situ. These devices could be used to monitor physiological conditions, such as temperature, blood pressure, glucose and respiration for diagnostic and therapeutic procedures.

To date, conventional implanted electronics have been very inefficient in terms of volume – they typically require multiple external chips, packaging, cables, and transducers, and batteries are often required for energy storage. A constant trend in electronics has been a closer integration of electronic components, often moving more and more functions onto the integrated circuit itself.

Columbia Engineering researchers report that they have built what they say is the world’s smallest single-chip system, consuming a total volume of less than 0.1mm3. The system is as small as a mite and visible only under a microscope. To do this, the team used ultrasound to power and communicate with the wireless device. The study was published online May 7 in Science Advances.

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