The clear albumen surrounding an egg’s yolk was spun into a super-thin wafer used in a degradable chip known as a memristor
Durability is often touted as the hallmark of good electronics, but sometimes you want components that don’t last all that long. For example, it would be handy if microelectronic systems that delivered drugs to various parts of the body dissolved after their task was done. Or if sensors that monitor pollution simply dissolved after they were finished reporting, rather than contributing to even more environmentally-damaging material. A team of researchers from the UK and China has just figured out how to create one such chip out of eggs.
Specifically, the team used diluted egg albumen, the protein-rich clear part of an egg that turns white when it’s cooked. They spun the albumen quickly on a silicon wafer to create a super-thin film. On one side of this film they laid electrodes made from magnesium, and on the other side, electrodes made from tungsten – both natural, dissolvable materials.
When the process was done, the researchers had created a completely natural, degradable transient memory resistor, also known as a memristor. Memristors are a type of circuit that had existed in theory only since 1971 until they were created by HP Labs in 2008. They can not only process electrical information, but also retain a memory of those charges. Such chips could, for example, allow a computer to retain information in its circuits so that boot time would be nearly instantaneous.