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We live in a world where the lifetime of electronics is becoming shorter, now approaching an average of several months. This poses a growing ecological problem. This brief review will present some of the initial steps taken to address the issue of electronic waste with biodegradable organic electronic materials. Many organic materials have been shown to be biodegradable, safe, and nontoxic, including compounds of natural origin. Additionally, the unique features of such organic materials suggest they will be useful in biofunctional electronics; demonstrating functions that would be inaccessible for traditional inorganic compounds. Such materials may lead to fully biodegradable and even biocompatible/biometabolizable electronics for many low-cost applications. This review highlights recent progress in these classes of material, covering substrates and insulators, semiconductors, and finally conductors.
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JULY-AUGUST 2012 | VOLUME 15 | NUMBER 7-8
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ISSN:1369 7021 © Elsevier Ltd 2012
Sustainability is “the ability of a generation to ensure its needs
for the present without compromising the ability of the future
generations to meet their own needs”
1-3
. While it is difficult to provide
a thorough description for consumption, the definition provided in
reference 3 seems to incorporate the multitude of problems that
consumption poses to the sustainable development of modern
society: “Consumption is the human transformation of materials
and energy (along the production-consumption chain) that makes
the transformed materials or energy less available for future use,
or negatively impact biophysical systems in such a way to threaten
human health, welfare, or other things people value”.
Plastic consumption and waste are two of the major concerns in the
modern world. Polyethylene for example is currently the leading plastic
material, with a global consumption of about 83 million metric tons in
2010, mostly for use in plastic bag production (>1 trillion/year)
4,5
. Due
to the increased demand in countries with emerging economies, plastics
consumption is projected to increase approximately by a factor of three
during the current decade
6
. The outcome of the constant demand for
plastics is the buildup of non-biodegradable solid waste and plastic
litter (estimated at 25 million tons/year in the year 2000) with negative
consequences on our environment
7, 8
. Plastics normally biodegrade
very slowly, with full degradation occuring after 500 or 1000 years
9,10
.
We live in a world where the lifetime of electronics is becoming shorter,
now approaching an average of several months. This poses a growing
ecological problem. This brief review will present some of the initial steps
taken to address the issue of electronic waste with biodegradable organic
electronic materials. Many organic materials have been shown to be
biodegradable, safe, and nontoxic, including compounds of natural origin.
Additionally, the unique features of such organic materials suggest they
will be useful in biofunctional electronics; demonstrating functions that
would be inaccessible for traditional inorganic compounds. Such materials
may lead to fully biodegradable and even biocompatible/biometabolizable
electronics for many low-cost applications. This review highlights recent
progress in these classes of material, covering substrates and insulators,
semiconductors, and finally conductors.
Mihai Irimia-Vladu
a,b,*
, Eric. D. Głowacki
b
, Gundula Voss
b
, Siegfried Bauer
a
and Niyazi Serdar Sariciftci
b
a
Department of Soft Matter Physics, Johannes Kepler University, A-4040 Linz, Austria
b
Linz Institute for Organic Solar Cells (LIOS), Physical Chemistry, Johannes Kepler University, A-4040 Linz, Austria
*E-mail: Mihai.Irimia-Vladu@jku.at
Green and biodegradable
electronics
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Plastic electronics on the other hand represent an emerging field of
science and technology that began in the realm of academic curiosity
thirty years ago, but which has now made some amazing advancements.
The industrial and commercial potential of organic molecules has been
demonstrated in recent years through mature OLED technology and the
recent surge of organic photovoltaics (OPV), with reports of efficiencies
of about 10 % or higher in 2012
11-13
. Samsung produced 45 million OLED
displays in 2011 and projects to build up to 600 million units by 2015
14
,
whereas printed flexible photovoltaics are currently commercialized at
a smaller scale for rooftop and small appliance applications. Although
compared to the global production and consumption of plastics in the
world, the organic electronics market contributes only a small amount
of waste, this number should not be neglected. A symbolic example of
the problems that e-waste poses to the environment is presented in
Fig. 1. In the race to match the performance of inorganic materials and
realize attractive new consumer products like OLED displays, the issues
of biodegradability and biocompatibility of the materials employed
in organic electronics are often not considered. Up to the present, a
large amount of research has focused on synthetic avenues for the
production of active layers in organic field effect transistors (OFETs),
organic light emitting diodes (OLEDs), and organic photovoltaics (OPVs)
– neglecting how these materials affect the environment, as well as
questions of toxicity to humans, animals, and plants. Nevertheless, the
true biocompatibility of such materials is of paramount importance, not
only for the development of biomedical devices and applications involving
interfacing with living tissue
15-17
but also for human friendly electronics in
general
18,19
. The development of neural prosthetics, neural implants, drug
delivery devices, and diagnostic electronics all require materials that are
the least invasive
20-24
. Research in this area is relatively well-developed
compared to ‘green’ technology for organic optoelectronics. This success
can be explained by considering the unique advantages of organic
conducting materials: (1) the combination of mechanical robustness with
flexibility; (2) nontoxicity and the property of not eliciting inflammatory
or immune responses; and (3) the ability to behave as ionic and electronic
conductors, and thus interface electronics with the protonic and ionic
currents present in biological systems. This brief review will present the
recent advancements in terms of biocompatible/biodegradable materials
as well as technologies and devices. In the following, organic materials will
be classified according to their functionality: substrates and insulators,
semiconductors, and conductors.
Substrates and insulators
Numerous materials with a bio-origin have been identified as suitable
substrates for the fabrication of organic electronics. Additionally, many
of these materials demonstrate excellent insulating properties, which
combined with the ease of their processability make them suitable as
gate electrode insulators for OFET applications. Such materials enable
several functionalities: low-cost, non-toxicity, biodegradability, and often
biocompatibility and bioresorbability for biomedical applications.
One of the oldest and most familiar ‘substrate’ materials of natural
origin is paper. Paper is made from plant-derived cellulose. Many varieties
of paper are known, and the science of mass-producing paper with
desirable mechanical and surface properties is mature. It is by far the
cheapest biodegradable substrate material and enables large-area printing
of ‘use-and-throw’ devices. Arrays of OFETs and OFET circuits have been
printed on paper, demonstrating flexible devices with performance on-par
with more traditional substrates (Fig 2a)
25,26
. Low-voltage active circuits
have been realized on banknotes, for anti-counterfeiting applications
27
. It
was shown that despite the surface roughness of banknote paper, OFETs
operating at less than 1 V with mobilities of 0.2 cm
2
/Vs could be fabricated
reliably. A photo of a circuit printed on a banknote is shown in Fig. 2b.
Electronic circuits on paper have been the subject of a recent extensive
review
28
. Paper substrates have been used for flexible electrowetting
displays
29
, as well as thermochromic displays for disposable consumer
products
30
. Encouraging performance has been demonstrated for paper-
based organic photovoltaics. Recently, fully roll-to-roll solution printing
using gravure and flexographic printing techniques was utilized to make
printed-paper photovoltaics
31
. These devices use an inverted design, with
a printed ZnO/Zn back electrode and a conducting polymer transparent
top electrode. Such solar cells combine ultra low-cost materials, high-
throughput low-temperature roll-to-roll printing, and a flexible final
product. A photo and cross-sectional diagram of these paper solar
cells are shown in Fig. 2c. Another reported approach for paper-based
photovoltaics features thin semitransparent paper as a substrate, with
a conducting polymer transparent electrode, organic active layer, and
reflective back electrode all fabricated via low-temperature chemical
vapor deposition
32
. Arrays of these devices are shown in Fig. 2d, with
Fig. 2e illustrating folded devices. The cells can be folded repeatedly with
no degradation of the array performance.
Another natural material with a long history is silk. Silk is a polypeptide
polymer, consisting of two main proteins: fibroin and sericin. Fibroin is
made up primarily of repeating units of glycine, serine, and alanine that
afford interchain hydrogen bonding, providing the mechanical robustness
of silk fibers
33
. A molecular structure of fibroin is shown in Fig. 3a. This
material combines many advantages for biodegradable or biomedical
Fig. 1 Pictographic example of electronic waste. Electronic products bring pleasure
and comfort to consumers, but ultimately will reach the end of their life. Plastics
have a slow biodegradation route that lasts up to 1000 years, while the electronic
circuits contain many toxic and environmentally dangerous materials. Image
courtesy of Park Howell (http://parkhowell.com/). Reproduced with permission.
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REVIEW Green and biodegradable electronics
(a)
(b)
(c)
(d)
(e)
(a)
(b)
(c)
(d)
applications. Silk is fully bioresorbable and elicits no immune response,
and thus can be safely implanted into the body. A recent study showed
that an ultrathin electronic sensor array can be fabricated on silk, which
can then be placed in vivo onto exposed brain tissue. The silk safely
dissolves and resorbs, resulting in conformal coating of folded brain
tissue with the sensor array (Fig. 3b)
34
. Silicon-based electronics can
also be fabricated onto silk, and the silk can be used as a bioresorbable
carrier to introduce the electronic element in vivo
35
. Silk can function
as an effective solution-processed gate insulator for OFETs (Fig. 3c),
supporting very high mobilities of ~23 cm
2
/Vs in pentacene combined
with low-voltage operation
36
. Recently, silk has been used as a substrate
for passive rf-ID circuits that can be integrated directly onto food, i.e.,
apples, eggs, etc., as sensors of food quality (Fig. 3d)
37
. Additionally, silk
is fully biodegradable and can be engineered to degrade under desired
conditions, enabling targeted drug storage and delivery, e.g,
38-40
.
Another protein-based material is gelatin, used commonly for
capsules for oral drug ingestion. It is also fully biocompatible and
biodegradable. Electronics built on hard gelatin may easily be ingested
for specific biomedical applications targeting short interrogation time.
Fabrication of OFET devices directly onto hard gelatin capsules has been
demonstrated
41
. The protein albumin, from chicken egg whites, has been
shown as a high performance cross-linkable solution processed material
for OFET dielectric
42
. Protein-based materials for sustainable applications
have been recently reviewed
43
.
Aside from protein-based polymers, polysaccharides can also be used
as biocompatible substrate materials. Polymers made from starches
and polylactic acid have recently been commercially mass-produced
as biodegradable plastics
6
. An example is Ecoflex (BASF), a foil plastic
produced from potato and corn starch and polylactic acid. Ecoflex degrades
in compost in six months without leaving any residue
44
. Caramelized
glucose was recently explored as an exotic substrate for electronics;
despite its sensitivity to moisture, the film forming characteristics of
Fig. 2 Organic electronic devices fabricated on paper substrates. (a) OFET array
deposited on a paper substrate. Reprinted with permission from
25
. Color image
courtesy of Hagen Klauk. Copyright 2004, American Institute of Physics. (b)
OFETs printed on a banknote. Reproduced with permission from
27
. Copyright
Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA. (c) A fully solution-processed roll-to-roll
printed solar cell on paper. Reproduced with permission from
31
. Copyright Wiley-
VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA. (d) Solar cells fabricated using a monolithic
integrated chemical vapor deposition (CVD) process onto semitransparent
paper, (e) examples of CVD-prepared solar cells. Repeated folding of devices did
not result in degradation. Reproduced with permission from
32
. Copyright Wiley-
VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA.
Fig. 3 Silk in electronic devices. (a) Chemical structure of silk fibroin, a polypeptide.
(b) Example of a sensor array for neural recording fabricated on a silk substrate.
Once the device is applied onto the brain, silk is safely dissolved and resorbed,
resulting in a conformal coating of the sensor array onto the brain tissue.
Reprinted from
34
by permission from Macmillan Publishers Ltd, copyright 2010. (c)
Solution-processed silk fibroin as a gate dielectric for a flexible OFET. This device
was reported with a mobility of ~23 cm
2
/Vs. Reproduced with permission from
36
.
Copyright Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA. (d) A silk-based passive rf-ID
tag, applied on an apple skin to function as a food quality monitor. Reproduced
with permission from
37
. Copyright Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA.
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Green and biodegradable electronics REVIEW
(a)
(b)
glucose rivaled those of glass in terms of smoothness
45
. Another ‘historic’
natural polymeric material is shellac. This resin is naturally produced by
female lac beetles, and is harvested from trees in India and Thailand.
Chemically, it is a natural polyester copolymer of terpenic and aleuritic
acids, and can be processed from various polar organic solutions, such as
ethanol. Advantageously, shellac can also be synthetically fabricated in a
multitude of compositional grades and shades
46,47
. Both silk and shellac
have excellent surface smoothness (rms < 1 nm, rivaling glass) when
deposited as thin films. Shellac can easily be cast to produce substrate
foils (200 – 500 μm thickness), which have been used to make OFETs and
complementary-type circuits with the natural semiconductor indigo
48
.
Deoxyribonucleic acid, or DNA, is the building block of life on earth.
DNA is extracted in large amounts from waste products of the fishing
industry, and is thus a ‘natural feedstock’ material that can be produced
on an industrial scale. This fascinating molecule has inspired many
researchers to apply it in practical applications in photonics and organic
electronics. DNA can be processed from water solutions to produce films
with excellent optical transparency from 400 nm through the NIR region.
Recently, organic light emitting diodes (OLEDs), nonlinear optoelectronic
modulators, and photonic arrays based on DNA have been reported
49-54
.
DNA can also be applied as a gate insulator in organic field effect
transistors. Solution-processed and cross-linked DNA was successfully
implemented as a gate dielectric layer for low operating voltage OFETs
55-57
.
The individual nucleobases (guanine, adenine, thymine, and cytosine) are
extracted commercially for medical and cosmetic applications and have
been implemented as gate dielectrics for OFETs
45
. An example of a ‘green
OFET’ is shown in Fig. 4a. In this device the substrate is caramelized-
glucose, guanine, and adenine form the gate dielectric, and a nontoxic
textile dye, indanthrene yellow G is the organic semiconductor. A similar
device is shown in Fig. 4b, where guanine and adenine are used as the
gate dielectric for an OFET fabricated on a gelatin capsule. A thin film of
adenine used in combination with electrochemically-grown aluminum
oxide dielectric and C
60
fullerene can afford OFETs with a low operating
voltage (~0.5 V) and high semiconductor mobility (~5.5 cm
2
/Vs)
45,58
.
This summary of natural substrates and dielectrics shows that nature
offers an affluence of materials choice that could be integrated into
various organic electronic devices, offering alternatives for biocompatible,
biodegradable, and even bioimplantable and bioresorbable applications.
Semiconductors
Nature is replete in π-conjugated molecules that can be used as
semiconductors. Additionally, the synthetic dye industry produces many
conjugated organic dyes that have been determined safe and nontoxic for
use as food or textile colorants and inks. Compared to the exploration of
biocompatible materials such as insulators and substrates, investigations
into biocompatible semiconductors remain sparse. The carotenoids,
such as β-carotene, are linear π-conjugated molecules that act as hole-
transporting semiconductors. Devices using β-carotene and natural gate
insulators such as glucose fabricated on biodegradable plastic substrates
are demonstrations of truly ‘natural’ OFETs
41,45
. Nevertheless with
mobilities in the range of 1 × 10
-4
cm
2
/Vs those devices are not efficient.
Attempts to utilize solution-processed β-carotene in solar cells showed
only modest performance
59
. The first reports of fully green’ OFET devices
featured biocompatible substrates and natural dielectrics and employed
nontoxic synthetic textile dyes such as anthraquinones and perylene
bisimides; these devices demonstrated mobilities in the 10
-2
– 10
-1
range
41,45
. Fully biomaterial-based OFETs with ambipolar charge transport
mobilities in the range 10
-2
– 0.4 were demonstrated with indigo and its
derivatives
48,59-61
. In such devices, as shown in Fig. 5, substrate, dielectric,
and semiconductor are all of natural-origin.
Indigo is the most mass-produced dyestuff worldwide, primarily used
for the coloring of blue jeans. Though today produced synthetically,
it originated from several species of plants and has been extracted and
used as a dye since ancient times. Indigo, and its brominated derivative,
6,6‘-dibromoindigo were arguably the subject of the world’s oldest
chemical industry, being produced from natural sources and prized as
commodities as valuable as gold
62-64
. Their structures are shown in Fig. 6.
Several indigo derivatives are present in nature, in both plants and animals,
and indigo itself has been reported to be biodegradable and non-toxic
65
while also having a biosynthetic route involving strains of bacteria
66,67
.
Indigo and its derivatives are thermally- and photochemically-
stable molecules due to intra- and intermolecular hydrogen bonding
between amine hydrogens and carbonyl groups. The excellent planarity
of the molecule and H-bonding result in tight π-stacking between
neighbors, with an interplanar spacing of ~3.4 Å
62
. Indigo ‘breaks the
rules’ of traditional molecular organic semiconductors as it has minimal
intramolecular conjugation, with carbonyl and amine groups seen to
interrupt conjugation in the resonance model. However, the excellent
charge transport properties of indigoid dyes are attributed to the strong
intermolecular interactions of π-stacking reinforced by hydrogen
bonding. Due to the directionality of π-stacking (typically along the
crystallographic b-axis for most indigoids) charge transport is highly
anisotropic. In order to achieve good OFET performance, molecules
Fig. 4 OFETs on natural substrates. (a) An entirely ‘bio-OFET’ utilizing a
caramelized-glucose substrate, Al gate electrode with an adenine/guanine gate
dielectric, and the nontoxic textile dye indanthrene yellow G functioning as the
semiconductor. (b) An OFET fabricated on a gelatin capsule, utilizing adenine/
guanine gate dielectric and a cosmetic perylene bisimide dye. Reproduced with
permission from
41
. Copyright Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA.
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REVIEW Green and biodegradable electronics
Fig. 5 An OFET device utilizing all natural materials. The substrate is shellac foil, produced by drop casting from ethanol solution. An electrochemically-grown Al
2
O
3
layer passivated with the natural oligoethylene tetratetracontane serves as the gate dielectric. The semiconductor material is indigo. The image on the right shows a
complete array of several such OFETs on a shellac substrate. These devices showed excellent stability and balanced electron and hole mobilities of 0.01 cm
2
/Vs. From E.
D. Glowacki, M. Irimia-Vladu, “Natural and Nature-inspired Materials in Organic Electronics”, SPIE Newsroom 2012, doi: 10.1117/2.1201201.004054. Reproduced with
permission.
Fig. 6 Chemical structures of indigo and its dibromo derivative. Indigo is derived from several species of plants, Tyrian purple originates from the glands of different
species of marine mollusks.
must adopt a ‘standing-up’ conformation, with π-stacking parallel to
the gate dielectric. To achieve this, aliphatic dielectric materials are used,
such as polyethylene or the natural oligoethylene tetratetracontane.
Indigo and Tyrian purple both show reversible two-electron
reduction and oxidation electrochemistry, and have small band gaps
(1.7 – 1.8 eV) and thus are suitable for ambipolar OFETs and voltage
inverter circuits
48,60
. An example of high performance ambipolar transport
in OFETs is displayed in Fig. 7a where Tyrian purple (6,6’-dibromoindigo)
is evaporated on a polyethylene-passivated aluminium oxide dielectric.
The device shows well-balanced electron and hole transport channels
with mobilities of 0.3 – 0.4 cm
2
/Vs
61
. Fig. 7b shows complementary like
inverters fabricated with a Tyrian purple channel and Au source and
drain electrodes. The gain of ~250 – 290 is among the best reported
for a single semiconductor with a single type of contact electrode
60
.
These results show that cheap and nontoxic materials of natural origin
can compete with the best synthetic organic semiconductors. Research
into the biodegradation and biocompatibility of organic semiconductors
remains very limited.
Conductors
Exploration of biocompatible conducting materials in recent years has
been a vibrant field. In addition to electronic conduction, many materials
with a bio-origin are ionic conductors. Both modes of conduction have
potential application in biodegradable electronic products as well as
biomedical devices. Historically, the earliest organic electronic ‘device’
68
, a
resistive switching element, was based on melanin, a biological polymeric
material responsible for brown-black pigmentations in animals, including
humans. Since the first reports on conductivity in melanin, it has been
employed in various sandwich diode type devices
69,70
. The conductivity
of melanin is heavily dependent on hydration of the material. Recently
it was found that it can be used in thin-film form as a conductor in
biomedical applications, showing both compatibility with living tissue
and bioresorbability
71
. Originally, an amorphous semiconductor model
was applied to understand the mechanism of charge transport in melanin,
however more recently concise evidence has been shown that in fact
proton conductivity is the mechanism responsible for charge transport
in melanin
72
. Proton-conducting materials, extensively researched for
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(a)
(b)
(a)
(b)
(c)
(a)
(b)
(c)
(d)
fuel cell applications, have recently been recognized for great potential
in biocompatible electronics. The motivation is two-fold: firstly, natural-
origin proton conducting materials enable sustainable devices, and
secondly, a multitude of biological pathways involve protons, therefore
proton/electronic interfaces are of interest for creating biomedical
devices. Many conducting polymers are uniquely suited as bioelectronics
interface materials because they can conduct both ionic and electronic
currents. This is not accessible for traditional metallic conductors. A
recent demonstration of a proton-conducting polysaccharide thin-film
transistor device controlled by the electronic field effect of a gate is a
functional realization of the electronic/protonic interface
73
. A device
schematic is shown in the top portion of Fig. 8. This device utilizes the
polymer chitosan, obtained from the deacetylation of chitin, the structural
polymer composing the exoskeletons of crustaceans. Commercially
available chitosan is derived from shrimp. A recent report has shown that
transistors with solution-processed chitosan proton conductors could be
fabricated on paper substrates
74
.
While applied research with truly ‘natural’ conductors remains limited,
the field of synthetic conducting polymers is relatively mature. Conducting
polymers such as polyaniline, poly(pyrrole), and poly(thiophenes) have
demonstrate excellent biocompatibility in biological applications
15-18,22,75
.
Of the well-known electron-conducting polymers in organic electronics
the system poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) doped with the polyanion
poly(styrenesulfonate) (PEDOT:PSS) has been implemented in a variety
of biosensing applications, and even in vivo studies. Reports on cell growth
on PEDOT:PSS films suggest a lack of any toxicity. PEDOT:PSS can be
applied on living brain tissue as conformal polymer electrodes for in vivo
electrocorticography, showing a superior signal/noise ratio compared with
traditional measurements
20
. Interfacial conducting PEDOT nanotubes
have also been successfully used for neural recording
76
. Recent work
shows that PEDOT can even be electro polymerized in situ in a living brain,
accomplishing a therapeutic effect
77
. PEDOT has been shown to be an
effective conductor of anions as well, while PSS can serve as a conducting
medium for cations such as Ca
2+
, Na
+
, K
+
,
78,79
and the neurotransmitter
acetylcholine
80,81
. A PEDOT-based acetylcholine voltage-driven ‘pump’ is
shown in the bottom portion of Fig. 8. A sizeable body of work has been
published where PEDOT:PSS formulations function as a ionic/electronic
interface material to transduce ionic currents into electronic ones and vice
versa, and has been recently reviewed
15,22
. A number of other conducting
polymers have been found to be biocompatible, including polyaniline and
Fig. 7 Tyrian purple electronic devices. (a) Tyrian purple OFET transfer
characteristics. Reproduced from
61
Copyright 2010, with permission from
Elsevier. (b) Output characteristics of a Tyrian purple-based voltage inverter (a
complementary-like circuit) showing among the highest-reported gains for a
single organic ambipolar material. Adapted from
60
; used in accordance with the
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.
Fig. 8 (Top) A schematic of a bioprotonic transistor. Palladium functions as a
protode (proton-source and drain material) with an electronic gate modulating the
protonic current through chitosan, a biopolymer. Proton mobility was found to be
~4 × 10
-3
cm
2
/Vs. Reprinted from
73
by permission from Macmillan Publishers
Ltd, copyright 2011. (Bottom) An organic electronic ion pump, fabricated using
conventional microfabrication techniques. A single device has dimensions of 10 μm.
Reproduced with permission from
80
. Copyright Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co.
KGaA.
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polypyrrole
82
. Both retain conductivity and favorable mechanical properties
like flexibility in biological systems while being nontoxic and not triggering
an immune response. Though these common conducting polymers have
been shown to be nontoxic and remarkably biocompatible, there is a lack of
reports in the literature concerning biodegradation of these materials.
Conclusions
Organic materials are uniquely suited to produce electronics that can not
only be sustainable and biodegradable, but can also have functionalities
inaccessible to standard crystalline semiconductors, such as the
functionalities required in many biomedical applications. Research in the
field of the biointegration of electronics is proceeding swiftly, primarily
because organic materials offer unique advantages. The consideration of
biodegradability and sustainability of organic-electronic based consumer
devices is still in its infancy at present. Recent demonstrations of high-
performance organic electronics based on biomaterials have shown that
truly ‘green’ electronics have potential and, hopefully, are poised to make
a positive impact in the future.
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MATTOD_2012_2_Review_Sarif 346 23-08-12 13:58:32
... Because jellyfish are consumed by some natural predators, it is feasible that a predator could incidentally ingest a robotically stimulated jellyfish that has been deployed for more remote or autonomous ocean expeditions, where they remain unmonitored or where human monitors are unable to intervene. For ethical purposes, the environmental impacts can be minimized by using more natural or biodegradable materials for the electronic components, sensors, and housing elements (Irimia-Vladu et al., 2012). For scientific purposes, the use of multiple jellyfish as swarms to plan for data loss is key, although real-time data collection methods would be ideal to obtain sensor information before the jellyfish are offline. ...
... Even with ideal results regarding the longevity of individual jellyfish, because the ocean is a complex, unstructured environment for any robotic system, the longevity of individual robotically controlled jellyfish is unknown due to natural predation. To ensure that lost systems do not contribute to ocean pollution or cause harm to other organisms, advances in biodegradable electronics (Irimia-Vladu et al., 2012;Li et al., 2018), and either natural materials or biodegradable housing and structural elements, should be pursued to replace conventional hardware in these systems. Further ethical consideration should be given to addressing any concerns, from the individual level for jellyfish test subjects (e.g., by continuous monitoring of stress-related molecular biomarkers) to species-wide and ecological levels (e.g., by considering potential unintended consequences), so that this new approach is a model for both its technological innovation and its ethical pursuit of research. ...
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... The new paradigm of edible electronics, emerging in the more general framework of green electronics, 14,15 exploits the inherent electronic properties of food and food additives. 16,17 This makes it optimal for electronic devices in close contact with food as it aims to develop devices safe for human consumption. ...
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