These smart implant coatings watch for implant failure while killing bacteria

Smart coatings on orthopedic implants, developed at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, have bacteria-killing nanopillars on one side and strain-mapping flexible electronics on the other. This could help physicians guide patient rehabilitation and repair or replace devices before they fail.[Image courtesy of Beckman Imaging Technology Group]

Researchers at the University of Illinois developed “smart” coatings for orthopedic implants that can monitor strain on the devices.

These coatings monitor strain to provide early warnings of implant failures while killing infection-causing bacteria. They integrate flexible sensors with a nanostructured antibacterial surface. Researchers say they received inspiration for the surface from the wings of dragonflies and cicadas.

In a study published in the journal Science Advances, the team found the coatings prevented infections in live mice. The co…

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Researchers create ‘unparalleled’ high-voltage microbattery

Depiction of microrobots in a hazardous environment (Image courtesy of Alex David Jerez Roman, Beckman institute, UIUC)

Researchers at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign say they created a high-voltage microbattery with high energy and power density.

According to the researchers, the energy and power density are “unparalleled” by any existing battery design. These batteries may power microdevices, microrobots and implantable medical devices.

Paul Braun, a material science and engineering professor, Sungbong Kim, an assistant at Korea Military Academy, and Arghya Patra, a grad student, published a paper detailing the development. The authors published the paper in Cell Reports Physical Science.

The team demonstrated hermetically sealed, durable, compact lithium batteries with low package mass fraction. These batteries came in single-, double- and triple-stacked configuratio…

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Researchers use microelectronics to develop remote control for ‘biobots’

Remotely controlled miniature biological robots — biobots — have many potential applications in medicine, sensing and environmental monitoring. [Image courtesy of Yongdeok Kim]

Researchers at collaborating universities in Illinois developed miniature biological robots with remote control capabilities.

The hybrid “eBiobots” combine soft materials, living muscle and microelectronics. Researchers at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Northwestern University and collaborating institutions developed them.

In a post on the University of Illinois website, they described them as centimeter-scale biological machines. They published their research in the journal Science Robotics.

“Integrating microelectronics allows the merger of the biological world and the electronics world, both with many advantages of their own, to now produce these electronic biobots and machines that could be use…

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Shrimp-inspired camera can ‘see’ cancer cells during surgery

Researchers at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign are touting a shrimp-inspired camera that can visualize cancer cells during surgery.

Electrical and computer engineering professor Viktor Gruev led a study to observe how the camera, inspired by the mantis shrimp, works with tumor-targeted drugs to see cancer in animal and human patients, according to a report on the university’s website. The researchers published the study in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

“The mantis shrimp has these incredible eyes,” Steven Blair, an electrical and computer engineering graduate student and the lead author of the study, said in the report. “Humans perceive three colors – red, green and blue – because of a single layer of light-sensitive cone cells that line our retina, but the mantis shrimp perceives upward of 12 colors thanks to the stacks of light-sensitive cells at the tip of its eye. The mantis shrimp’s little eyes can thus see things that human…

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