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Using Soluble Circuits to Reduce End E-Waste

It takes 1,000 years for a typical silicon wafer to dissolve in a bucket of water.

soluble circuit

Image credit: Jonathon Kambouris.

Now the world population is up to seven billion. For each of us living on the earth, 43 pounds of electronic waste is generated every year. As predicted by the United Nations, this figure will go up by 30 percent by the end of 2017.

Since many Chinese are burning refuse for extraction of precious metals, a lot of the refuse find their final destination there. In the burning process, local people have to inhale some of the most extant toxic chemicals.

From the research undertaken by the scientists at Oregon State University, it is obvious that for those villagers who are living nearby the e-waste dumps, the possibility of developing cancer is 1.6 times higher than urban dwellers living in polluted cities with particulates blocking out the sun regularly.

John Rogers, a materials scientist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, has created 35 nanometers thick ribbons of silicon which could dissolve in ten days in less than a millimeter of water.

By incorporating these strips with magnesium and silk, John Rogers has created circuits that safely degrade inside the human body. Such circuits could open a new chapter for the smart biomedical devices.

However, as Rogers says, creating these circuits is just a first move in reduction of e-waste. He is now trying hard to engineer dissolvable integrated circuits as well as antennas.

His next-year aim is focused on creation of soluble radio-frequency identification tags. Talking of the new application in this respect, Mark Allen, a micro-electromechanical engineer at the University of Pennsylvania predicts that with more biodegradable devices coming into use, people will throw away flexible tablets like newspapers.

Source: Popular Science