In Canada, Simon Frasier University professor Woo Soo Kim and researchers from Switzerland have developed a sensor made from cellulose for use in the “Internet of Things,” the rapidly increasing interconnection of computing devices in everyday objects. The cellulose is sourced from wood, and the sensors are biodegradable.
“Our eco-friendly 3D printed cellulose sensors can wirelessly transmit data during their life, and then can be disposed without concern of environmental contamination,” Kim tells Lab News. “The waste from printed circuit boards is a hazardous source of contamination to the environment. If we are able to change the plastics in PCB to cellulose composite materials, recycling of metal components on the board could be collected in a much easier way.”
The sensors were 3D-printed by Surry’s PowerTech Labs. Kim is also working with South Korean researchers to develop printable conductive ink.
The UN estimates 50 million metric tons of e-waste was generated last year.