Schematic representation of the device.

Implantable medical devices are used to monitor physiological conditions such as temperature, blood pressure, glucose, and respiration for both diagnostic and therapeutic procedures. Researchers at Columbia University built a single-chip system the size of a dust mite that uses ultrasound to both power and communicate with the device.

The chip is a complete functioning electronic system for wireless, miniaturized implantable medical devices. Because the wavelengths for ultrasound are much smaller at a given frequency than RF, the team used ultrasound, fabricating an "antenna" for communicating and powering with ultrasound directly on top of the chip.

The team’s goal is to develop chips that can be injected into the body with a hypodermic needle and then communicate back out of the body using ultrasound, providing information about something they measure locally.