Ultra-thin wireless device grows to bone

November 23, 2021
Ultra-thin wireless device grows to bone

Researchers have fashioned an ultra-thin computer that grows into and bonds to the surface of bones – it is expected to add to the investigative monitoring of musculoskeletal health and guide its recovery and therapy. Osseosurface electronics devices, according to research developers from the University of Arizona, US, contains sensors packed into a flexible package about the size of a penny; it can wirelessly transmit data about the respective bones out to a smartphone or other receiving device.

Most importantly, the osseosurface electronics devices will not irritate the muscles moving over the top of them.

“The device’s thin structure, roughly as thick as a sheet of paper, means it can conform to the curvature of the bone, forming a tight interface,” added Alex Burton, a doctoral student in biomedical engineering. “They do not need a battery. This is possible using a power casting and communication method called near-field communication, or NFC, which is used in smartphones for contactless pay.”

The researchers also created an adhesive that contains calcium phosphate ceramic particles, which secures the osseosurface electronics to the bone. This bonds the device permanently to the bone, rather than having it come loose when the outer layers shed off in time.

Philipp Gutruf, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering at the university, said, “The bone basically thinks the device is part of it, and grows to the sensor itself. This allows it to form a permanent bond to the bone and take measurements over long periods of time.”

The researchers have successfully implanted the device into small and large animal models and showed real-time data can be read out with a smartphone.

The device could be particularly helpful in patients with conditions such as osteoporosis, since they frequently suffer refractures. Knowing how quickly and how well the bone is healing could inform clinical treatment decisions, such as drug dosage prescription or when to remove temporary hardware like plates, rods, or screws.

Category: Features, Technology & Devices

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