Researchers create biodegradable flexible displays for skin

Researchers from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) have produced displays that have been biodegradability certified and checked by independent auditors. The researchers say for the first time, they have demonstrated it's possible to create sustainable displays primarily based on natural materials with the help of industrially relevant production methods.

After use, the displays produce no electronic scrap and can be composted. Researchers believe that in combination with recycling or reuse, their development could help minimize or completely prevent some environmental impact from electronic waste. The displays are based on what's known as the electrochromic effect of the initial organic material.

Electrochromic displays have low energy consumption and an easy to connect architecture compared to most commercially available LED, LCD, or E-paper displays. Another big benefit of the display breakthrough is that they can be produced using inkjet printing in a customized, inexpensive, and efficient way. The team also says the process can be scaled for high throughput.

Construction materials are of natural origin or biocompatible and are sealed with gelatin making the display adhesive and flexible so it can be worn directly on the skin. This sort of display is particularly well-suited for short-lifecycle applications in sectors like medical diagnostics. The technology could also be used to monitor food packaging where reuse isn't permitted.

The displays are created via printing methods that can be adapted to each individual user or complex shapes without modifying the process. Scientists believe this is the first demonstration of a biodegradable display produced using inkjet printing. There is no indication at this time of when the display might be used for commercial applications.