The continuing miniaturization of electronics is opening up some exciting possibilities when it comes to what we might place in our bodies to monitor and improve our health. Engineers at Columbia University have demonstrated an extreme version of this technology, developing the smallest single-chip system ever created, which could be implanted with a hypodermic needle to measure temperature inside the body, and possibly much more.
From ladybug-sized implants that track oxygen levels in deep body tissues to tiny “neural dust” sensors that monitor nerve signals in real time, scientists are making big steps when it comes to the functionality of tiny electronic devices. The implant developed by the Columbia Engineers breaks new ground as the world’s smallest single-chip system, which is a completely functional electronic circuit with a total volume of less than 0.1 mm3.
That makes it as small as a dust mite, and only visible under a microscope. The tiny chip required some outside-the-box thinking to make, particularly when it comes to the way it communicates and is powered.