With global consumption of electronics on the rise, so is the already overwhelming amount of associated e-waste. One possible way to diminish the environmental impact of e-waste is by making electronic components biodegradable — at least that’s the line of thought of a team of scientists who have recently developed an experimental new electronic display that can be composted at the end of life.
Created by scientists at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), the device is a type of electrochromic display that works with the help of an organic polymer known as PEDOT:PSS. As voltage is applied to the device, the amount of light absorption changes thus also changing individual segments of the display between transparent and opaque states.
Similar to other electrochromic displays, this one can be easily manufactured with the help of an inkjet printer. The printing process could reportedly be easily scaled up for commercial production, while also allowing for the production of smaller displays in custom shapes or sizes.
According to the researchers, the innovation could find its use in short-lifecycle applications, such as disposable health-monitoring skin sensors, or food packaging that indicates whether the food has spoiled.
“As far as we know, this is the first demonstration of a biodegradable display produced by inkjet printing,” said study co-author Gerardo Hernandez-Sosa. “It will pave the way to sustainable innovations for other electronic components and to the production of eco-friendlier electronics.”