USA: Developing Biodegradable, Organic, Flexible Electronics

Sarah Derouin of Stanford News reports that Stanford University engineer Zhenan Bao and her team have developed a semiconductor that is as flexible as skin and easily degradable. She notes that this innovation could have diverse medical and environmental applications - without adding to the mounting pile of global electronic waste. “In my group, we have been trying to mimic the function of human skin to think about how to develop future electronic devices,” Bao said, in reference to skin's properties of being stretchable, self-healable and also biodegradable – an attractive list of characteristics for electronics. Having achieved the first two qualities, the team tackled the third and developed an electronic device that can easily degrade just by adding a weak acid like vinegar. The results of their work - which produced the first example of a semiconductor polymer that can decompose - were published in early May 2017 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The research was funded by the Air Force Office for Scientific Research, BASF, Marie Curie Cofund, Beatriu de Pinós fellowship, and the Kodak Graduate Fellowship.