Researchers Create Biodegradable Circuits That Turns Into Recyclable Pieces

Sep, 2022 - By SMI

Researchers Create Biodegradable Circuits That Turns Into Recyclable Pieces

This new electronic circuit is 3D printed that degrades on demand and turns back into reusable form of materials

Recycling process of old electronics can be complicated as they are clogging up landfills and valuable metals used in them are being locked away. Now a team of scientists at UC Berkeley and Berkeley Lab have created printed circuits that can be broken down on demand into reusable materials which also includes precious metals.

Transient electronics is a growing research field. These electronics degrade after a time when they are exposed to heat or water. In the new study, the researchers used their old work as a base where biodegradable plastic having enzymes embedded in them were created. These enzymes break the polymer chains in the material apart in soil or hot water, it degrades the plastic in only days. In this study, the team made some changes in this and used mixture of inexpensive enzymes to cut down costs and streamline production. Using biodegradable plastic as a substrate, the researchers printed electronic circuit from a conductive ink. This ink is made from carbon black particles for providing electrical conductivity, the enzyme mixture to unravel the material as it degrades the binders and polyester binders that hold everything together.

The researchers stored the circuits in a drawer under normal conditions for seven months as it gets exposed to everyday changing temperature as well as humidity. Later, the team passed an electric current through the circuit constantly for a month. As per the team, this stored circuits performed equally as any new circuits, which indicated that they did not begin to degrade prematurely.

Furthermore, the team finally tested the biodegradability of the circuits, where they found out that the silver particles started separating in 72 hours from the polymers and 94% of the silvers was recyclable. Thus, this new circuit could be used in wearables and various other electronics, according to the team.

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