Published: Sep 23, 2010 10:00:00 AM
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How it works: Edible circuits are imprinted on biodegradable films and sensors made from organic materials.
Scientists at Auburn University have teamed up with researchers at Johannes Kepler University in Linz, Austria, and scientists from the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow and Middle East Technical University in Ankara, Turkey, to develop edible and compostable electronics that can help reduce electronic waste.
Edible circuits are imprinted on biodegradable films and sensors made from organic materials, such as beta-carotene, indigo, caffeine, glucose, coloring materials and DNA, could be used to identify the ripeness of fruit or detect vibrations of hyper-sensitive materials during transportation.
“The final consumer then puts the sensor in with the organic waste or simply eats it,” said Mihai Irimia-Vladu, former Auburn University doctoral student and scientist for the Institute of Experimental Physics and Institute of Organic Solar Cells at Johannes Kepler University. His Auburn adviser was materials engineering faculty member Jeffrey Fergus.
These organic sensors could also be used for surveillance of metabolic procedures and then disintegrate with no related health risks. With further development, edible electronics could also be used for building toys to keep children safe.
Irimia-Vladu worked with Siegfried Bauer, head of the soft matter physics department at Johannes Kepler’s Institute of Experimental Physics, and Serdar Sariciftci, chair of the Institute for Organic Solar Cells, as well as an international team of researchers from Austria, Russia, Turkey and the United States, to publish the work in Advanced Functional Materials, an international journal.
Contributed by Elizabeth Mahaney