As Gadgets, like computers, telephones, and smartwatches become increasingly prevalent in our everyday lives, a huge mountain of electronic waste looms on the horizon. Unfortunately, the majority of this waste is difficult to recycle since it includes harmful components and is difficult to degrade.
What’s most, people do not realize; only about 20 percent of all e-waste was recycled in 2019. This has lead some experts to propose a different route: Why not make electronics compostable?
Now, some engineers are hoping that nature might help us tackle our e-waste problem by developing biodegradable electronics (also known as “soft” or “transient” electronics). They’re creating a foundation for flexible electronics out of mycelium, the chitin- and cellulose-rich material that makes up the majority of a mushroom’s body.
This foundation, also known as a substrate, is commonly used to insulate and cool electronic circuits. In the future, this mushroom skin might replace non-recyclable plastic polymers in substrates. Mushroom-derived substrates could provide a scalable, eco-friendly solution.
The new mycelium-based (Mushroom) foundation is simple to develop; all it need is rotting wood and the proper spores, and it turns out you don’t need to do anything to use it for electronics — simply dry it 🙂
These mushroom skins can withstand temperatures of up to 482 degrees Fahrenheit once dried. The researchers covered their fungal substance in ultra-thin layers of metal (all of which may potentially be recycled) and combined it with regular electronics components to produce sensor boards; they also utilized the skin to build battery components.
To fully realize the promise of mushroom-based electronics, scientists must first figure out how to cultivate mycelium that looks the same every time. The field of soft electronics is still fairly young, but it could make tech trash a thing of the past.
Reference- Science Advances, Inverse Story, Interesting Engineering, Popular Mechanics, Statista, Futurism