Simon Fraser University and Swiss researchers are developing an eco-friendly, 3D printable method for producing wireless IoT sensors that can be used and disposed of without contaminating the environment. SFU professor Woo Soo Kim is leading the research team's discovery involving the use of a wood-derived cellulose material to replace 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 without concern of environmental contamination," says Kim, a professor in the School of Mechatronic Systems Engineering at SFU's Surrey campus. The research is being carried out at PowerTech Labs in Surrey, which houses several state-of-the-art 3D printers used by researchers.
"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."
The research program spans two international collaborative projects, including the latest focusing on the eco-friendly cellulose material-based chemical sensors with collaborators from the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science.