Believing that the next advance in medical technology will be electronic devices that can be both implanted in the human body and dissolve entirely on their own (bioresorbable electronics), researchers from Missouri University of Science and Technology are attempting to demonstrate how laser printing using nanoparticles will help uncover cost-effective ways to construct sturdier and safer components.

In the journal Advanced Materials, researchers detail how to print small electronic components using lasers to process print-ready zinc nanoparticles.

According to researchers, bioresorbable electronics (transient electronics) using traditional microchip fabrication methods require expensive optical patterning and vacuum deposition processes. And although laser printing is a cost-effective method, it potentially exposes zinc, magnesium and other ingredients to oxygen, nitrogen and other compounds that could cause adverse interactions.

In contrast, the new technique allows for zinc nanoparticles to be sintered together through an evaporation and condensation method that avoids surface oxides. According to researchers, the fabricated, oxide-free zinc conductors demonstrated high electrical conductivity, mechanical durability and water dissolvability.

“The new method can direct-print patterned zinc conductors on bioresorbable polymers with conductivity close to bulk values,” said Dr. Heng Pan, assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Missouri S&T. “And the fabricated patterns on bioresorbable substrate can be readily integrated with high performance electronics.”

For more information on the new process, read, “Low-Cost Manufacturing of Bioresorbable Conductors by Evaporation—Condensation-Mediated Laser Printing and Sintering of Zn Nanoparticles.”