Biocompatible silicon developed

July 14, 2001 | Source: Physics World

Silicon can be developed into a biocompatible and biodegradable material that could lead to smaller, smarter and more-interactive implants in the human body. The secret: “porous” silicon ­– bulk silicon that has been deliberately riddled with nanometer-sized holes.
Rather than having to shield a silicon-based device from body tissues and the bloodstream, it is now theoretically possible to construct silicon-based devices that are genuinely “bioactive.”

The surface of a chip could be designed so that it, say, interacts actively with living tissues in order to elicit some desirable physiological response.

The silicon chip could, for example, stimulate bone-depositing cells in the body to cover the chip in both collagen and hydroxyapatite (the inorganic component of bone), thereby giving it a natural camouflage and enabling it to fuse with nearby bone.

Other possibilities include tablets containing a cocktail of drugs hidden in tiny reservoirs that are released at different times.