A team of researchers at the University of Pittsburgh have developed a tiny microchip that, they say, may save joint implants before they’re overcome by infection. This chip, which is engineered to detect pH levels in the body, can alert doctors to encroaching bacterial infection, which causes acidosis, a drop in pH levels in nearby tissue.

Covered with tiny carbon nanotubes and treated with a proprietary polymer, the microchip reads pH levels and transmits the information to a radio frequency identification reader held by a doctor.

The wirelessly powered chip can be attached to implants and can remain in the body long term to catch infection early without the need for further surgical intervention.