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Cyborgs Are Getting A Step Closer To Reality

Scientists have created a new coating that makes nanoelectronics much more stable in conditions mimicking those in the human body, bringing the development of cyborgs closer to reality.

Cyborg is short for "cybernetic organism", a being with both organic and mechanical parts. In science fiction and popular culture, cyborgs are depicted as half-man, half-machine beings with robotic or bionic implants.

The development of the new coating could also aid in creating very small implanted medical devices for monitoring health and disease, researchers said.

Researcher Charles Lieber, from the department of chemistry and chemical biology at Harvard University, noted that nanoelectronic devices with nanowire components have unique abilities to probe and interact with living cells.

They are much smaller than most implanted medical devices used today. Lab versions made of silicon nanowires can detect disease biomarkers and even single virus cells, or record heart cells as they beat. Lieber's team has also integrated nanoelectronics into living tissues in three dimensions - creating a " cyborg tissue".

One hurdle to the practical, long-term use of these devices is that they fall apart within days of being implanted. The researchers set out to make them much more stable. They found that coating silicon nanowires with a metal oxide shell allowed nanowire devices to last for several months.
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