Biodegradable Displays for Eco-Friendly Electronics

The future brings many possibilities and an inevitable surge in demand for electronic devices. This increase will generate more electronic waste, which is an already-overwhelming issue. The higher the demand for electronics, the greater the e-waste problem. To help save resources and the planet, a KIT (Karlsruhe Institute of Technology) team recently proposed environmentally friendly electronics production and a more sustainable lifecycle of components.

Manuel Pietsch, the researcher of KIT working at the Heidelberg Innovation Lab, reportedly said that it is the first time they have been able to produce sustainable displays based on natural materials, and it’s all thanks to the help of advanced production methods. The team behind this innovation claims that these eco-friendly displays will not produce any electronic waste. Instead, the screens will be compostable.

In the future, sustainable displays like these should help minimize the impact of electronic waste on the environment.

What Makes These Sustainable Displays Unique?

This sustainable display model is based on the electrochromic effect of the organic material used for production. When the screen is exposed to voltage, its light absorption is modified, changing its color.

Electrochromic displays require minimal energy and simple components compared to today’s popular displays like LCD, LED, and E-paper.

Companies can also manufacture these displays via inkjet printing. This would make them cost-efficient, material-efficient, customizable, and scalable. With natural, biodegradable materials like gelatine, the display would be adhesive and flexible, and it could even be worn directly on the skin.

Applications of Proposed Eco-Friendly Displays

Although sustainable, these displays are best suited for short-lifecycle electronics in various industries. For example, in the medical industry, sensors and other wearable devices need proper cleaning or disposal after every use. The newly proposed displays could keep some medical waste out of the dump and in the compost bin instead.

These displays can also be used in food packaging for quality monitoring purposes where reusing is not a viable solution. Since they can be printed digitally, manufacturers can easily adapt displays for specific needs across the industry. The screens would even take complex shapes with minimal hassle, thanks to convenient printing production.

“As far as we know, this is the first demonstration of a biodegradable display produced by inkjet printing. It will pave the way to sustainable innovations for other electronic components and to the production of eco-friendlier electronics,” says the Head of LTI’s Printed Electronics Group Gerardo Hernandez-Sosa of Heidelberg InnovationLab.

Although the project is in its initial stages and we have much research to complete, it will be interesting to see how things unfold and if this same technique can be applied to all displays currently in use.

What are your views on this? Do share it with us in the comments below.

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