Electronic Skin: Sustainable Wearable Optoelectronics

Concerns about the potential effects of plastic coatings in optoelectronic devices have begun to surface as the environmental cost of plastic microparticles and nanoparticles has become increasingly obvious. A research team suggests one potential response: Use fish scales to create the pictures.

The team focused on the transparent plastic films that are used in a specific kind of optoelectronic device: flexible alternating-current electroluminescent (ACEL) devices, which involve integrating and wiring up luminescent materials atop thin, bendable transparent substrates, have developed to the point where they sport uniform luminescence, good power handling and efficiency, and low heat generation. Because of this, they are especially appealing for electronic skin and wearable technology.

Researchers have searched for substitute substrate materials for optoelectronic-skin uses that might have a lower environmental impact in light of this. Candidates have included tree cellulose, the extraction of which raises concerns about sustainability, and silk proteins from silkworms, which may be too expensive to be used in disposable optoelectronics mass manufacturing.

The group concentrated on a distinct substance: fish scale gelatin. The substance possesses some advantageous optoelectronic properties. The scale gelatin is readily available and biodegradable, which indicates that once it is discarded, it will eventually disappear into the background of the environment. “electronic skin”-type uses of this technology, such as glowing temporary tattoos or single- “electronic skin”-type applications of this.

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