News Release

Researchers identify biocompatible liquid metal for better control of biomedical devices

Peer-Reviewed Publication

Brigham and Women's Hospital

Medical devices that robustly serve a purpose then slowly break down over time are highly sought after for applications ranging from drug delivery to sensor-integrated health monitoring. Researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital, a founding member of the Mass General Brigham healthcare system, in search of a tough and durable material that can also be triggered to break down after use, turned to something new: biocompatible liquid metals. The research team identified eutectic gallium indium (EGaIn) as an ideal metal for biomedical application and tested whether it could be formulated for targeted breakdown of aluminum in the body. The team investigated EGaIn in four parts: initiating embrittlement, controlling breakdown behavior, demonstrations of potential biomedical uses, and biocompatibility. Using these four investigative angles, they found a functional formulation of EGaIn, realizing the potential of an actively-triggerable metal to provide functional properties and a controllable end-of-life.

“We can now take advantage of the excellent mechanical properties of metals to make highly durable biomedical devices, and still be able to break them down on demand without requiring invasive retrieval procedures like surgery,” said lead author Vivian Feig, PhD, of the Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Endoscopy. “This capability could improve the translational potential of technologies like long-term ingestible drug delivery systems, metal stents, and metal tissue staples. Moving forward, we are excited to explore whether we can extend this active triggering mechanism to other metals that are more commonly used in the clinic, such as titanium.”

Read more in Advanced Materials.

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