What if your next smartwatch was made from mushrooms?


As we live in an increasingly connected world, electronic waste is accumulating. Reason why, for example, Europe will impose the USB-C port on Apple.

But in addition to the efforts in terms of regulation, as well as the extension of the lifespan of electronic devices, another solution presents itself: to produce more components that are biodegradable and/or easier to recycle.

An unexpected property of mushroom skin

A recent discovery by a group of researchers at Johannes Kepler University in Linz, Austria, could enable industry to create greener electronic circuits. They have discovered a new material, extracted from a mushroom, which could be used to create electronic components.

According to the explanations of the university, the discovery was made almost by chance. One fungus in particular, the shiny ganoderma or ganoderma lucidum, forms a mycelial skin on the surface to protect itself from pathogens and other fungi.

This skin can be removed, and treated, to obtain a material resistant to heat exceeding 250°C. This one is also quite robust, and is flexible.

Researchers at Johannes Kepler University propose this mushroom skin for the production of electronic components. Indeed, according to them, it can replace the polymers currently used to create flexible electronic components.

Will our future gadgets be based on mushrooms?

By soldering “relatively conventional microchips” onto the mushroom skin, the researchers managed to create a proximity sensor, as well as a humidity sensor, that work properly. Researchers also want to use this material for batteries.

A biodegradable material for electronics

The advantage of this material is that it is biodegradable, which could reduce the impact of our devices on the planet, but also facilitate recycling. Indeed, Martin Kaltenbrunner, a researcher at JKU University, all types of printed circuit boards are made of composites that are generally difficult to separate, recycle or break down.

That’s why this mushroom skin, which they called MycelioTronics, is an interesting alternative. Indeed, when the mycelium degrades, it becomes easier to separate and recycle the other elements of the electronic circuit.

The article was published in the journal Science Advances. According to this, in terms of flexibility, the material can withstand “over 2000 flex cycles and can be bent many times”without affecting the electronic properties too much.

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