Moisture-triggered physically transient electronics

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Science Advances  01 Sep 2017:
Vol. 3, no. 9, e1701222
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1701222

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Physically transient electronics, a form of electronics that can physically disappear in a controllable manner, is very promising for emerging applications. Most of the transient processes reported so far only occur in aqueous solutions or biofluids, offering limited control over the triggering and degradation processes. We report novel moisture-triggered physically transient electronics, which exempt the needs of resorption solutions and can completely disappear within well-controlled time frames. The triggered transient process starts with the hydrolysis of the polyanhydride substrate in the presence of trace amounts of moisture in the air, a process that can generate products of corrosive organic acids to digest various inorganic electronic materials and components. Polyanhydride is the only example of polymer that undergoes surface erosion, a distinct feature that enables stable operation of the functional devices over a predefined time frame. Clear advantages of this novel triggered transience mode include that the lifetime of the devices can be precisely controlled by varying the moisture levels and changing the composition of the polymer substrate. The transience time scale can be tuned from days to weeks. Various transient devices, ranging from passive electronics (such as antenna, resistor, and capacitor) to active electronics (such as transistor, diodes, optoelectronics, and memories), and an integrated system as a platform demonstration have been developed to illustrate the concept and verify the feasibility of this design strategy.

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