Biodegradable integrated circuits are being developed by a team at Glasgow University in GEOPIC, a project that aims to stem the growing problem of electronic waste.

Researchers from the University’s James Watt School of Engineering have won a £1.5m grant from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) for the project.

Their work could help address the growing problem of toxic waste created during the manufacture and disposal of electronic items like computers, mobile phones and fitness trackers.

According to the University, 2019 saw consumers dispose of over 53 million tonnes of electronic waste, much of which contained hazardous waste in components like batteries and circuit boards. It is estimated that less than 20 per cent of this is properly recycled and the scale of the problem is growing annually.

The Glasgow team will work with industrial and governmental partners to develop high-performance electronic materials which can be safely disposed of at the end of their useful lives. This includes designing electronics that are more easily recycled into new forms or by using components that naturally degrade altogether to form benign by-products.

The GEOPIC project – Green Energy-Optimised Printed Transient Integrated Circuits – builds on existing expertise at the University’s Bendable Electronics and Sensing Technologies (BEST) group.

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