New Material for Circuits in Dissolvable Electronics

  • Author: ChemistryViews
  • Published: 09 August 2021
  • Copyright: Wiley-VCH GmbH
  • Source / Publisher: ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces/ACS Publications
  • Associated Societies: American Chemical Society (ACS), USA
thumbnail image: New Material for Circuits in Dissolvable Electronics

Small electronics, such as smartwatches or fitness trackers, are difficult to dismantle and recycle. The fast pace of technology innovations causes consumers to upgrade their devices often and leads to large amounts of electronic waste. Recycling can reduce the volume of e-waste and is mandatory in many places. However, it often is not worth the effort to recycle small consumer electronics because their parts must be salvaged by hand, and some processing steps, such as open burning and acid leaching, can cause health issues and environmental pollution. Dissolvable devices that break apart on demand could solve these problems.


Xian Huang, Tianjin University, China, and colleagues have developed a two-metal nanocomposite for circuits that disintegrates when submerged in water. Previously the team had developed a zinc-based nanocomposite that dissolves in water for use in temporary circuits, but it was not conductive enough for consumer electronics. They modified the zinc-based nanocomposite by adding silver nanowires, making it highly conductive. They screen-printed the desired circuits onto pieces of poly(vinyl alcohol), a polymer that degrades in water, and solidified the circuits using a water-sintering technique.


With this approach, the team made a dissolvable smartwatch, using multiple nanocomposite-printed circuit boards inside a 3D-printed poly(vinyl alcohol) case. The smartwatch has sensors that measure the heart rate, blood oxygen levels, and step count of the wearer and sends the information to a cellphone app via a Bluetooth connection. The outer shell holds up to sweat, but once the whole device was fully immersed in water, both the polymer case and circuits dissolve completely within 40 hours. All that was left behind were components such as an organic light-emitting diode (OLED) screen and microcontroller, as well as resistors and capacitors that had been integrated into the circuits.


 

 

Article Views: 3441

Sign in Area

Please sign in below

Additional Sign In options

Please note that to comment on an article you must be registered and logged in.
Registration is for free, you may already be registered to receive, e.g., the newsletter. When you register on this website, please ensure you view our terms and conditions. All comments are subject to moderation.

Article Comments - To add a comment please sign in

If you would like to reuse any content, in print or online, from ChemistryViews.org, please contact us first for permission and consult our permission guidance prior to making your request

Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on YouTube Follow on LinkedIn Follow on Instagram RSS Sign up for newsletters

Magazine of Chemistry Europe (16 European Chemical Societies) published by Wiley-VCH