There are exceptionally thin circuits within these components, just a few nano-meters thick, and they transfer energy through their design. The design is built by combining magnesium and silicon, or using silicon that has a magnesium additive. Both of these are water-soluble and after a short time will disappear.
However, there was an obstacle in the process of creating the final product which must be addressed before going any further. There was a layer of protection need to protect the circuits so should external fluids make their way into the packaging, it could destroy the circuits.
One example that the SINTEF researchers gave was that of a circuit package being designed seawater use being fitted with sensors that measure oil spills. It is necessary for the film to be manufactured where it will remain in place while the measurements are being taken, even for the weeks at a time.
Research scientist in SINTEF’s ICT (Information and Communication Technology) division, Karsten Husby was quoted as saying “It’s important to make it clear that we’re not manufacturing a final product, but a demo that can show that an electronic component can be made with properties that make it degradable.” Husby continued on to say “Our project is now in its second year, but we’ll need a partner active in the industry and more funding in the years ahead if we’re to meet our objectives. There’s no doubt that eco-friendly electronics is a field which will come into its own, also here in Norway. And we’ve made it our mission to reach our goals.”
Here in the US, researchers have been working on bio-compatible electronic devices that could be implanted in the body that will dissolve. They would have a variety of uses such as pain management or to fight infection.
Husby was quoted as saying “We make no secret of the fact that we are putting our faith in the research results coming out of the USA, The Americans have made amazing contributions both in relation to medical applications, and towards resolving the issue of waste. We are far from this, but we want to try to find alternative approaches to the same problem.”
In a similar style, other researchers have created what may be the world’s first “biological” drone. The drone is built from biodegradable material which will disintegrate upon a crash with no evidence left behind. This drone was developed by a team of 15 Stanford University, Brown University, and Spelman College students along with Ecovative Design, a New York-based biomaterials company.