Many procedures in modern clinical medicine rely on the use of electronic implants in treating conditions that range from acute coronary events to traumatic injury1,2. However, standard permanent electronic hardware acts as a nidus for infection: bacteria form biofilms along percutaneous wires, or seed haematogenously, with the potential to migrate within the body and to provoke immune-mediated pathological tissue reactions3,4. The associated surgical retrieval procedures, meanwhile, subject patients to the distress associated with re-operation and expose them to additional complications5,6,7,8. Here, we report materials, device architectures, integration strategies, and in vivo demonstrations in rats of implantable, multifunctional silicon sensors for the brain, for which all of the constituent materials naturally resorb via hydrolysis and/or metabolic action9,10,11,12, eliminating the need for extraction. Continuous monitoring of intracranial pressure and temperature illustrates functionality essential to the treatment of traumatic brain injury2,13; the measurement performance of our resorbable devices compares favourably with that of non-resorbable clinical standards. In our experiments, insulated percutaneous wires connect to an externally mounted, miniaturized wireless potentiostat for data transmission. In a separate set-up, we connect a sensor to an implanted (but only partially resorbable) data-communication system, proving the principle that there is no need for any percutaneous wiring. The devices can be adapted to sense fluid flow, motion, pH or thermal characteristics, in formats that are compatible with the body’s abdomen and extremities, as well as the deep brain, suggesting that the sensors might meet many needs in clinical medicine.

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S.-K.K. and co-workers are funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. J.G.M. is supported by the National Institute of Mental Health, grant F31MH101956. The authors thank M. R. Bruchas at Washington University School of Medicine for providing immunohistochemistry facilities; M. R. MacEwan at Washington University School of Medicine for discussions on animal protocols; A. Manocchi at Transient Electronics Inc. for performing the dissolution test of polyanhydride; and H. Ning at Xerion Advanced Battery Corporation for assistance with running the BET measurements. H.C. was a Howard Hughes Medical Institute International Student Research Fellow. S.-W.H. was supported by the Basic Science Research Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) funded by the Ministry of Education (grant NRF-2015R1C1A1A02037560). G.P. and K.M.L. were supported by the Basic Science Research Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) funded by the Ministry of Science, ICT, and Future Planning (grants NRF-2007-00107 and NRF-2013M3A9D3045719).

Author information

Author notes

    • Seung-Kyun Kang
    • , Rory K. J. Murphy
    • , Suk-Won Hwang
    •  & Seung Min Lee

    These authors contributed equally to this work.


  1. Department of Materials Science and Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois 61801, USA

    • Seung-Kyun Kang
    • , Seung Min Lee
    • , Daniel V. Harburg
    • , Neil A. Krueger
    • , Hanze Ying
    • , Jeonghyun Kim
    • , R. Chad Webb
    • , Sangjin Chung
    • , Jianjun Cheng
    • , Paul V. Braun
    •  & John A. Rogers
  2. Frederick Seitz Materials Research Laboratory, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois 61801, USA

    • Seung-Kyun Kang
    • , Seung Min Lee
    • , Daniel V. Harburg
    • , Jiho Shin
    • , Sooyoun Yu
    • , Jeonghyun Kim
    • , R. Chad Webb
    • , Sangjin Chung
    • , Paul V. Braun
    •  & John A. Rogers
  3. Department of Neurological Surgery, Washington University School of Medicine, St Louis, Missouri 63110, USA

    • Rory K. J. Murphy
    • , Paul Gamble
    • , Manu Stephen
    • , Amit D. Gujar
    • , Bharat Vemulapalli
    • , Albert H. Kim
    •  & Wilson Z. Ray
  4. KU-KIST Graduate School of Converging Science and Technology, Korea University, Seoul 136-701, Republic of Korea

    • Suk-Won Hwang
  5. Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois 61801, USA

    • Jiho Shin
    •  & Sooyoun Yu
  6. Department of Engineering Science and Mechanics, Materials Research Institute, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania 16802, USA

    • Huanyu Cheng
  7. Institute of High Performance Computing, Singapore 138632, Singapore

    • Zhuangjian Liu
  8. Department of Anesthesiology, Washington University School of Medicine, St Louis, Missouri 63110, USA

    • Jordan G. McCall
  9. Department of Biomicrosystem Technology, Korea University, Seoul 136-701, South Korea

    • Gayoung Park
  10. Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Korea University College of Medicine, Seoul 136-713, South Korea

    • Gayoung Park
    •  & Kyung-Mi Lee
  11. Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering, School of Mechanical Engineering, The Center for Implantable Devices, Birck Nanotechnology Center, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana 47907, USA

    • Chi Hwan Lee
  12. School of Mechanical Engineering, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana 47907, USA

    • Dae Seung Wie
  13. Department of Mechanical Engineering, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Materials Science and Engineering, and Skin Disease Research Center, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 60208, USA

    • Younggang Huang
  14. Department of Biomedical Engineering, College of Health Science, Korea University, Seoul 136-703, South Korea

    • Sang Hoon Lee
  15. Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois 61801, USA

    • Paul V. Braun
    •  & John A. Rogers


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S.-K.K., S.-W.H., D.V.H., N.A.K., S.Y., J.S., H.Y., R.C.W., C.H.L., S.C., D.S.W., J.C., P.V.B. and J.A.R. designed and fabricated the sensors and interfaces. S.-K.K., S.M.L., J.S., J.K. S.H.L. and J.A.R. designed, fabricated and analysed the near-field communication system with the sensor. S.-K.K., R.K.J.M., S.M.L., D.V.H., H.C., P.G., S.Y., J.S., M.S., R.C.W., C.H.L., B.V., Z.L., Y.H., W.Z.R. and J.A.R. conceived the idea and performed the experiments and analysis. R.K.J.M., P.G., J.G.M., M.S., G.P., A.D.G., A.H.K., K.-M.L. and W.Z.R. analysed the immunohistochemistry. S.-K.K., R.K.J.M., S.-W.H., S.M.L., D.V.H., H.C., W.Z.R. and J.A.R. wrote the manuscript.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Wilson Z. Ray or John A. Rogers.

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    Supplementary Information

    This file contains Supplementary Methods and Discussion, Supplementary References, Supplementary Table 1 and Supplementary Figures 1-39.

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