Heat-Triggered, Self-Destructing Electronic Devices

University of Illinois researchers have developed self-destructing electronic devices, a step toward advanced biomedical implants as well as reduced electronic waste and boosted sustainability in device manufacturing. The heat-triggered devices use magnesium circuits printed on very thin, flexible materials. The researchers trap microscopic droplets of a weak acid in wax, and coat the devices with the wax. When the devices are heated, the wax melts, releasing the acid. The acid dissolves the device quickly and completely. To remotely trigger the reaction, researchers embedded a radio-frequency receiver and an inductive heating coil in the device. The user can send a signal to cause the coil to heat up, which melts the wax and dissolves the device.