Scientists at Tianjin University have created a watch that dissolves in water if left there for 40 hours. In the development, they used a two-metal nanocomposite material. The research is published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces.
Millions of tons of electronic waste are generated worldwide every year. The problem is, most instruments are difficult to disassemble and take a lot of resources. Also, the materials from which the technology is created are hardly decomposed in the environment. In a new study, Chinese scientists have figured out how to solve this problem: the key components of the new smartwatch dissolve in water.
Previously, the same team of scientists created a zinc-based nanocomposite material. Its low conductivity did not allow it to be used in technology; now researchers have modified it. To make the material conductive enough for consumer electronics, the scientists added silver nanowires. Then they printed the solution on a water-degradable polymer.
Then the scientists placed several created printed circuit boards in a polyvinyl alcohol case, printed on a 3D printer. By itself, polyvinyl alcohol is a water-soluble and biodegradable material. In the prototype of the smartwatch, the authors of the development also included sensors for reading the heart rate, the number of steps and the level of oxygen in the blood, so that the device could compete with analogues on the market.
The results of the experiment showed that the device is capable of accurately recording biometric data. Electronics does not deteriorate due to water droplets. Scientists note that in order to dissolve a worn-out smartwatch, it is necessary to immerse it in water for 40 hours or a day and a half. The study showed that after the deadline, only an OLED screen and a microcontroller remained from the device.