by Staff Writers
Ames, IA (SPX) Apr 07, 2014

Iowa State’s Reza Montazami examines a degradable antenna capable of data transmission. Image courtesy Bob Elbert.

A medical device, once its job is done, could harmlessly melt away inside a person’s body. Or, a military device could collect and send its data and then dissolve away, leaving no trace of an intelligence mission. Or, an environmental sensor could collect climate information, then wash away in the rain.

It’s a new way of looking at electronics: “You don’t expect your cell phone to dissolve someday, right?” said Reza Montazami, an Iowa State University assistant professor of mechanical engineering. “The resistors, capacitors and electronics, you don’t expect everything to dissolve in such a manner that there’s no trace of it.”

But Montazami thinks it can happen and is developing the necessary materials.

He calls the technology “transient materials” or “transient electronics.” The materials are special polymers designed to quickly and completely melt away when a trigger is activated. It’s a fairly new field of study and Montazami says he’s making progress.

The research team he’s leading, for example, is developing degradable polymer composite materials that are suitable platforms for electronic components. The team has also built and tested a degradable antenna capable of data transmission.

The team presented some of its research results at the recent meeting of the American Chemical Society in Dallas.

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