One of the problems that consumer electronic devices face is their difficulty in being recycled (hence why so many regulations come out). Many of its components, when they reach the end of their useful lives, are discarded without the possibility of reusing the materials. New research proposes a solution: create new fully recyclable transistors.
Researchers at Duke University have created what they say is the first fully recyclable printed electronics. It is a transistor that once its useful life ends can be decomposed into the primary materials with which it was formed. All thanks to nanocellulose and conductive inks.
Nanocellulose and flexible electronic circuits
As detailed in their research, the team has developed this special transistor using nanocellulose. Nanocellulose comes from plants and is often obtained from wood waste. It is used especially in biodegradable packaging. Now it is also used for electronic circuits with this new development. In the past we have even seen it in cars.
By combining the nanocellulose with printable ink, they were able to make a dielectric ink. This resulting ink was once again combined with a conductive one made of graphene and carbon nanotubes. The end result is a carbon ink that conducts electricity and can be printed on a jet-printed paper substrate. With this ink they were able to create a transistor and they say that other electronic components can be created as well.
They say the transistor they created worked properly for six months. Then it was a matter of recycling it and recovering its materials. For now, of course, it is a proof of concept. It remains to be seen what viability it has by analyzing its cost of mass production and the useful return that can be achieved, as well as the cost of recycling.
When it comes to recycling the transistor, which is the ultimate goal, used a process of baths and vibrations. The component goes through a series of baths in liquids and with sound vibrations so that the materials are detached. All of this is then passed through a centrifuge to recover the carbon nanotubes and graphene. They say they recover almost 100% of the materials.
Its creators are clear that with this they will not replace the entire silicon industry and the other materials used in the current construction of electronic components. However, they believe that it serves to “demonstrate that this type of new material and its functionality is hopefully a step in the right direction”
Via | University of Duke