Biodegradable display tackles e-waste problem

27 January 2021

Electronic scrap is a growing problem that needs to be addressed. Researchers from Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Germany, created a biodegradable display that is a major step in the right direction. This is the first time that biodegradable displays have been successfully produced. The new product results in no electronic scrap at the end of its lifecycle because of its recycling and reuse properties.

The display works using the electrochromic effect of the initial organic material. When voltage is applied, the light absorption is modified and the material changes color. Electrochemical displays have low energy consumption and simple component architecture.

Thanks to its flexibility and adhesion, the biodegradable display can be worn directly on the hand. Source: Manuel Pietsch, KITThanks to its flexibility and adhesion, the biodegradable display can be worn directly on the hand. Source: Manuel Pietsch, KIT

The new displays are produced with inkjet printing in a customized, cheap and materially efficient way. This is best suited for scaling with high throughput.

The components of the new material are natural and biocompatible. The sealing is done with gelatin, which makes the display adhesive and flexible so that it can be worn directly on the skin. Digital printing allows the displays to be adapted to a person or complex shape without expensive modification.

The display is best suited for lifecycle applications in various sectors. In the medical industry, it could be used for medical diagnostics and eliminate electronic scrap. Sensors could be used to monitor food quality in areas where sensor reuse isn’t allowed.

A paper on this technology was published in the Journal of Materials Chemistry.

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