The team at Sweden’s Linköping University injected a cocktail of molecules that can transform into electrically conductive gel into live zebra fish and leeches.
Through this technique they were able to create bioelectronics, turning the animals’ living tissue into electronic matter. The researchers said their discovery could make it possible in the future to fabricate microchips in live organisms.
The team said that the technique could help in the treatment of injuries and disorders by allowing the use of electronics inside the body to analyze body parts and organs in real-time, according to a report on IEEE.
For the study, researchers found a way to fabricate soft, flexible bioelectronics directly within biological tissue. To do this they used a molecular mix that, when injected, chemically reacted with naturally occurring compounds such as glucose and lactase to form an electrically conducting gel.
Through this technique they were able to create electrodes in the brain, heart, and tail fins of living zebra fish without damaging the animal’s tissues. They were also able to grow these electrodes in cow, swine, and chicken muscle.
“With electronics and electrodes formed inside biological systems, invasiveness should be relatively much lower and even zero, compared to introducing hard and rigid standard electronics into soft tissues,” said Magnus Berggren, the study’s senior author and a material scientist at Linköping University in Sweden.
The study was published in the most recent issue of the journal Science.