New electronics that degrade when they’re no longer needed.

Engineers have built a new type of gadget that doesn’t look like most others. It’s stretchy, thin and so light that a human hair can lift it. It’s made from cheap, nontoxic materials. It can also vanish. After a month in acid — even just kitchen vinegar — the device is gone.

Chemical engineer Ting Lei helped design the innovation. He works in the lab of engineer Zhenan Bao at Stanford University in California. “We’re focusing on low-cost sensors for flexible electronics,” Lei says. For about five years, Bao’s group has been studying materials that can break down naturally.

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