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London (UPI) Nov 7, 2012
British researchers say they're working on developing water-soluble circuit boards that could significantly improve e-waste recycling.
Britain's National Physics Laboratory, working with companies In2Tec and Gwent Electronic Materials, say the new printable electronics circuit board will dissolve when placed in hot water.
The circuit boards are made of polymeric layers that can withstand prolonged thermal cycling and damp heat stressing during normal use in electronic devices, but can easily be separated into their constituent parts after immersion in hot water, TG Daily reported Wednesday.
Researchers said 90 percent of a circuit board for an electroluminescent lamp dissolved in a small amount of hot water in a test of the material.
Electronics waste is the fastest-growing category of waste in the world, taxing normal recycling techniques, the researchers said.
The water-soluble technology can be used in rigid, flexible and 3D structures, they said, allowing the electronics industry to pursue designs using less material and improving environmental sustainability.
Self-cleaning surfaces look to nature
Researchers at Ohio State University said they were able to clean up to 85 percent of dust off a coated plastic surface that mimicked the texture of a butterfly wing, compared to only 70 percent off a flat surface.
The researchers said such textures could enhance fluid flow and prevent surfaces from getting dirty, characteristics that could be applied to surfaces for aircraft and watercraft, pipelines and medical equipment.
"Nature has evolved many surfaces that are self-cleaning or reduce drag," mechanical engineering Professor Bharat Bhushan said in an OSU release.
"Reduced drag is desirable for industry, whether you're trying to move a few drops of blood through a nano-channel or millions of gallons of crude oil through a pipeline. And self-cleaning surfaces would be useful for medical equipment -- catheters, or anything that might harbor bacteria."
The researchers studied wings of the Giant Blue Morpho butterfly and leaves of the rice plant Oriza sativa, then cast plastic replicas of both microscopic textures to examine their ability to repel dirt and water.
The surface texture of the butterfly's wing resembles a clapboard roof with rows of overlapping "shingles" radiating out from the butterfly's body, suggesting water and dirt roll off the wings "like water off a roof," Bhushan said.
Space Technology News - Applications and Research
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