Nerval's Lobster writes "The microelectronic sensors and mechanical systems built into smartphone cameras and other tiny electronic devices may soon evolve into microscopic, custom-printed versions designed as bionic body parts rather than smartphone components. Engineering researchers at Tel Aviv University have developed a micro-printing process that can build microscopic microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) onto a flexible, non-toxic organic polymer designed for implantation in the human body. Current-generation MEMS are typically found in the accelerometers in smartphones, or the tiny actuator motors that focus cell-phone camera lenses. Most are made from substrates based on silicon, and built using techniques common to semiconductor fabrication. The new process, as described in the journal Microelectronic Engineering , relies on an organic polymer that is hundreds of times more flexible than conventional materials used for similar purposes. That flexibility not only makes the units easier to fit into the oddly shaped parts of a human body, it allows them to be made more sensitive to motion and energy-efficient. That alone would give a boost to the miniaturization of electronics, but the stretch and flex of the new materials could also serve as more comfortable and efficient replacements for current prosthetics that sense stimuli from an amputee's nervous system to power a prosthetic arm, for example, or operate a synthetic bladder."
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