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Organic conductors, nanostructures, and future medical implants

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Geplaatst op 10 april 2009 - 01:28

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When it comes to materials science, two of the hottest areas of research are nanotechnology and organic circuitry, both of which we've covered extensively. Particles structured on the nanoscale often have distinct structural and surface area properties that provide them with structural and catalytic behavior that's distinct from that of the parent material. Organic conductors and semiconductors have attracted interest because they can potentially be manufactured largely out of abundant elements like nitrogen and carbon, and provide flexible electronics. Both of these materials have largely attracted interest in light of what they can do to move humanity onto a more sustainable path, but a perspective that will appear in today's issue of Science describes another field that they have the potential to revolutionize: medical implants.

The perspective, written by a trio of researchers from Australia's University of Wollongong, starts with a basic premise: we're in pretty good shape when it comes to basic, structural implants like knee replacements, but we're just starting to scratch the surface of the potential to create implants that communicate with the surrounding tissues. Devices like implanted pacemakers and defibrillators can afford to be relatively crude in how they interact with the heart, but we're starting to see implants that communicate with nerve cells, such as cochlear implants and the electrodes used for deep brain stimulation.

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