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of new applications, including consumer elec- tronics, healthcare monitoring, artificial skins for robots, decorative textiles, automotive sys- tems, and aerospace and defense. It is a wel- come and enabling addition to the family of flexible circuit technologies. DESIGN007 References 1. "Stretchable and Conformal Electronics Market, Global Forecase to 2022, Technology & Telecom- munications, Lucintel. Joe Fjelstad is founder and CEO of Verdant Electronics and an international authority and inno- vator in the field of electronic interconnection and packaging technologies with more than 185 patents issued or pending. To read past columns, click here. Download your copy of Fjelstad's book Flexible Circuit Technol- ogy, 4th Edition, and watch his in-depth work- shop series. A team of researchers from the Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and UC Berkeley have developed a fully recyclable and biodegradable printed circuit. The researchers, who reported the new device in the journal Advanced Materials, say that the advance could divert wearable devices and other flexible electronics from landfill, and mitigate the health and environmental hazards posed by heavy metal waste. "When it comes to plastic e-waste, it's easy to say it's impossible to solve and walk away," said senior author Ting Xu, a faculty senior scientist in Berkeley Lab's Materials Sciences Division, and professor of chemistry and materials science and engineering at UC Berkeley. "But scientists are finding more evi- dence of significant health and environmental con- cerns caused by e-waste leaching into the soil and groundwater." In a previous study, Xu and her team demon- strated a biodegradable plastic material embedded with purified enzymes such as Burkholderia cepa- cian lipase (BC-lipase). For the current study, Xu and her team simplified the process even further. Instead of expensive purified enzymes, the bio- degradable printed circuits rely on cheaper, shelf- ready BC lipase "cocktails." To test its shelf life and durability, the researchers stored a printed circuit in a laboratory drawer with- out controlled humidity or temperature for seven months. After pulling the circuit from storage, the researchers applied continuous electrical voltage to the device for a month and found that the circuit conducted electricity just as well as it did before storage. Next, the researchers put the device's recyclability to test by immersing it in warm water. Within 72 hours, the circuit materials degraded into its constituent parts. By the end of this experiment, they determined that approximately 94% of the silver particles can be recycled and reused with similar device performance. Now that they've demonstrated a biodegradable and recyclable printed circuit, Xu wants to demonstrate a print- able, recyclable, and biodegradable microchip. (Source: Berkeley Lab) SEPTEMBER 2022 I DESIGN007 MAGAZINE 77 Print, Recycle, Repeat: Scientists Demonstrate a Biodegradable Printed Circuit

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