Wood Replaces Plastic in New IoT Sensors

Environmentally friendly sensors to change the future of electronics.

Wood Replaces Plastic in New IoT Sensors
SFU

Simon Fraser University and Swiss researchers are developing an eco-friendly 3D printed method for manufacturing wireless Internet-of-Things (IoT) sensors. A Wood-derived cellulose material replaces the plastics and polymeric materials currently used in electronics. 

"Our eco-friendly 3D printed cellulose sensors can wirelessly transmit data during their life, and then can be disposed of without concern of environmental contamination," says Woo Soo Kim, a professor in the School of Mechatronic Systems Engineering at SFU's Surrey campus.

The breakthrough could make future of electronics greener

The development of the sensors is taking place at PowerTech Labs in Surrey, home to several cutting edge 3D printers. Using 3D printing allows the sensors to be added or embedded onto existing 3D shapes or textiles. 

"This development will help to advance green electronics. For example, the waste from printed circuit boards is a hazardous source of contamination to the environment. If we are able to change the plastics in PCB to cellulose composite materials, recycling of metal components on the board could be collected in a much easier way,” continues Kim. 

International collaborations make history

Kim is collaborating with several international institutions. This latest project teams up with Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science to develop the eco-friendly cellulose material-based chemical sensors. 

He is also working with scientists from the Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology's (DGIST)'s in South Korea and PROTEM Co Inc, a technology-based company to develop printable conductive ink materials. This collaboration already had a huge breakthrough when they developed a way to imprint fine circuit patterns on flexible polymer substrate freely. 

This development will have a significant impact on the development of semiconductor processes, as well as on the wearable device industry and the display industry. The research overcame the shortcomings of the conventional imprinting process. The result is a system that uses electromagnetic theory to imprint tens and hundreds of μm-sized fine circuit patterns on the desired location in the desired shape.

Professor Yun said "The process technology we have developed can freely imprint desired fine circuit patterns on flexible polymer electronic substrate without any additional replacement, so it is more economical and efficient than the existing process for imprinting patterns. 

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Circuit pattern development boosts a wide range of industries

We will continue to do to shape Professor Yun said "The process technology we have developed can freely imprint desired fine circuit patterns on flexible polymer electronic substrate without any additional replacement, so it is more and efficient than the existing process for imprinting patterns. We will do to research on this process technology so that it can be used in various areas of electronic and display industry such as semiconductor, flexible electronic display as well as the manufacturing process." 

He also added that "This new impact print-type hot embossing process technology will be able to form diversified fine circuit patterns more easily, so it is expected to contribute to the technology development of bio and medical R&D field since it can create more various patterns in real-time." The full study can be read in the September 24 edition of Advanced Engineering Materials,

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