In Switzerland, researchers are tackling a problem facing many medical implant manufacturers – how to incorporate flexible electronic parts into medical implants that are biocompatible with the human body. Silicone works well since it’s similar to human tissue, and gold is great at conducting electricity. But when you bring the two together, the gold doesn’t bind so well to silicone, causing those medical implants with electronic parts to be too unstable.
Researchers found a way to fix this issue by binding single gold atoms to the ends of polymer chains making it possible to build super thin conductive layers on silicone for the first time. This means that these new silicone membranes can serve as pressure sensors or even harvest electrical energy from body movement. The biggest challenge now is to find ways to reduce the costs to make it a viable product, but researchers are hopeful that will happen.