It's called transient material and the technology has widespread potential use, from medical tool that work inside your body to military gadgets that collect and transmit information.
"You can actually send a signal to your passport via satellite that causes the passport to physically degrade, so no one can use it," said Reza Montazami, a mechanical engineer at Iowa State.
Montazami also says depending on the application and the device, the device that contains the material can be fully dissolved in its environment or partially dissolved.
The electronics in samples are silver and nickel-based, both of which are toxic for humans. This would really be used for military purposes. Non-toxic metals would be used instead for medical materials.
"Think about the wireless technology we use every day," said Dr. Charles Goldman, of Mercy Medical Center. "This would be akin to that kind of technology, but put it to a biological matrix that could be implanted, rather than just put on the surface of your skin."
Two years into their study, the electronics only dissolve in liquids, but researchers are working on other ways such as heat to melt the material.
"It's all very exciting, I think it's going to change the notion of taking pills, giving IV infusions in the future," said Dr. Goldman.
The research team said it will be at least 10 years until there are commercially available products.
© 2018 Cox Media Group.