Food and medical packaging is also about to get smarter. Storage temperature, shelf life and other information can be individually collected and monitored using sensors built into the package and even displayed on an integrated display. In the case of the massive use of such technologies, the issue of recycling the electronics of packaging will become acute, which is proposed to be solved using biodegradable materials.
The German Institute of Technology Karlsruhe (KIT) has developed and presented a prototype of an electrochromic display, almost entirely made of biodegradable materials. After use, such a display can be thrown away and there will be no trace left of it, as well as no harm to the environment. By the way, such displays can also be used as wearable medical monitors of patients’ status, for example, after surgery. They will be easily disposed of after being unnecessary, removing a considerable burden from medicine for waste disposal.
The biodegradable display KIT relies on the well-known organic polymer PEDOT: PSS, in which the degree of light absorption changes when a voltage is applied, causing individual display segments to change from transparent to opaque and back when the polarity of the applied voltage changes. This polymer is coated onto a cellulose diacetate substrate and sealed in electrolyte gelatin, making the display flexible and tacky. Electric current is supplied through gold electrodes. Like other electrochromic displays, the proposed display can be produced at an affordable cost using an inkjet printer.
According to the developers, the biodegradable display printing process can be scaled up effortlessly for commercial production, although it also allows for small runs of specialized displays in irregular shapes or sizes.
“To the best of our knowledge, this is the first demonstration of a biodegradable inkjet display. – said Gerardo Hernandez-Sosa, head of the printed electronics group at the Institute of Light Technology KIT. – This will pave the way for sustainable innovation for other electronic components and greener electronics. “…
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