Your next doctor’s appointment could soon become much more informative thanks to new microchips the size of dust mites, only visible beneath a microscope.
Picture this: Your surgeon wants to continuously monitor your lungs prior to a procedure to ensure your respiratory system is strong enough to deal with anesthesia. So, a technician uses a hypodermic needle to inject a few small microchips into your body. Then, they use an ultrasound machine to communicate with the chips, which show your lungs are primed for the operation. Your subsequent surgery is a breeze.
This is a vision of the future with the world’s smallest single-chip system, a complete electronic circuit that technicians could one day inject directly into the body to monitor and diagnose certain health conditions.
Scientists at Columbia University have designed and fabricated the chips to measure body temperature so far, but they hope that one day, the chips can monitor everything from blood pressure, to glucose, to respiration, according to their new research, which appears in the journal Science Advances.
“We are very eager to pursue devices like this to augment ultrasonography, to go beyond what is available through endogenous characteristics of tissue,” lead researcher Ken Shepard, professor of electrical engineering and biomedical engineering at Columbia University, tells Pop Mech.
Editor’s note: DO freak out.