The Rise of Environmentally Friendly Electronics

  • A501
  • Seminar


Pietro Cataldi
Marie Curie fellow@IIT, Smart Materials


Consumer electronics are omnipresent. Commercially available materials for electronics ensure high
performances at low prices but have been developed in the linear economy context (produce-use-
waste) without dealing with biodegradability, circularity, and end-of-life aspects. Scarcity, toxicity,
and recycling difficulty limit the sustainability of these materials. Moreover, electronic waste (e-waste)
management is a primary concern for domestic governments since e-waste is proliferating. Indeed, it
is forecast to reach 120 million metric tons of production per year in 2050. Thus, the development of
materials for electronics that are biobased, biodegradable, and environmentally friendly is of
paramount importance.
During the seminar, we will summarize the available alternatives to traditionally employed materials
for electronics with flexible and more sustainable options. We will briefly survey the employment of
biopolymers and proteins such as cellulose, polyhydroxyalkanoate, and keratins as biodegradable and
lightweight insulators and see the unconventional strategies developed to produce deformable and
environmentally friendly semiconductors. The seminar's core will be on electrical conductors,
particularly electrically conductive composites. We will summarize the use of conformable conductors
that can degrade partially or fully in the environment. Finally, possible applications that will thrive
exploiting environmentally friendly materials for electronics, e.g., in the context of flexible, bio, and
edible electronics, will be discussed.