New bio-polymer can work as a semi-conductor

New bio-plastic promises e-waste reduction

New fully bio-degradable polymer has been developed that can be used to manufacture electrical circuits, thus reducing the amount of electronic waste.

The material, developed by Italian company Bio-on in cooperation with engineers from universities in Modena, and Perugia is a combination of bio-degradable plastics and carbon nanoparticles including graphene nanotubes.

The creators believe it is suitable for use in tablets and smartphones.

“We can use this material in various advanced technological sectors,” said Marco Astorri, CEO and co-founder of Bio-on. “Thanks to the multiple features of our bio plastics, their outstanding technical performance and excellent biocompatibility, we can use them to develop sensors and electro-medical equipment for health care.”

The material was first introduced at the International Conference on Biodegradable and Bio-based Polymers held in Rome this week.

The combination of bio-degradable plastics and nano-carbon materials could possibly enable creating lightweight and flexible electronics.

“This type of plastic reduces the environmental impact of the device,” said Paola Fabbri, a researcher at the Enzo Ferrari Department of Engineering of the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia. “Much of the plastics currently used in electronics can now be replaced by biopolymers such as Bio-on’s, many businesses can already benefit by reducing the impact of the life cycle of electronic devices, as recommended by the European legislation.”

Bio-on has created and patented the first 100 per cent naturally bio-degradable bio-plastic in 2007.

The material, dissolving in river water without leaving a trace in a couple of weeks, is based on residues of sugar production including beet and sugar cane. The company says only completely organic chemical solvents are being used in the manufacturing process.

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