This INSPIRE award is partially funded by the NSF Mathematical and Physical Sciences Directorate through the Biomaterials and Polymers Programs of the Division of Materials Research and the Office of Multidisciplinary Activities. Partial funding from the NSF Engineering Directorate is provided through the Mechanics of Materials and Nanomanufacturing Programs of the Division of Civil, Mechanical, and Manufacturing Innovation.

SYNOPSIS: This project will create an electronic platform with the ability to resorb into the surrounding environment in a benign way, at prescribed times, and with well-defined rates. This behavior is contrary to traditional expectations for conventional electronics, where the goal has typically been to achieve physical forms that display extended lifetimes. The work described will develop a scientific and engineering base of knowledge on materials, manufacturing strategies, and modeling tools for a resorbable electronics technology. This approach will enable important new classes of devices that cannot be achieved with conventional electronics. These could include medical monitors, sensors, or actuators that fully resorb into the human body at the end of their functional life and environmental monitors that eliminate the need for collection or recovery because they decay into their surroundings in a programmed way. Other concepts could include compostable circuits that will facilitate disposal of used electronics or circuits that incorporate strategic segments with timed transience to induce controlled transformation in electronic function.

INTELLECTUAL MERIT: The project combines a highly collaborative, interdisciplinary team of PIs with a distinguished record of accomplishment in biopolymer-based devices, unconventional electronics (stretchable/flexible), manufacturing and mechanical modeling. The core intellectual content covers materials science (biological/organic/inorganic), advanced fabrication techniques, electrical engineering, and integrated circuit design, all together with theoretical modeling from the device to system levels. Expertise in these areas will be combined to define the foundations of a resorbable electronics technology with target demonstration vehicles in digital and analog integrated circuits. Specifically, the PIs will generate an extensive set of resorbable electronic materials and device designs and develop novel manufacturing strategies to process these materials and create functional devices. At the same time, they will develop ad hoc analytical and computational models for resorption at the materials, device, and systems levels in order to integrate the findings and provide the necessary predictive and design tools.

BROADER IMPACTS: Successful outcomes will obviate surgeries previously required to remove temporarily implanted medical sensors and actuators, reduce the costs of recovering environmental sensors and measuring devices, and help to compost electronic devices that are consigned to landfills. A new library of resorbable electronic components and compatible manufacturing technologies will be made available to the community. The project will support graduate and postdoctoral training at the forefront of materials science and electronic device design. Existing programs providing research experiences for undergraduates at Illinois and Tufts will be continued. The topic can stimulate the inherent interest of the general public and will provide opportunities for contacts through museums and the public school system. The Tufts site already uses the silk and silkworm aspects of this project to attract interest in these settings. These activities will continue.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Materials Research (DMR)
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Aleksandr Simonian
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Tufts University
United States
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