Circuits are usually made out of toxic chemical-filled silicon, but Professors David Thiel and MadhusudanRao Neeli at Australia's Griffith University think that plastic circuits could be cleaner and greener. The pair's Circuits in Plastic (CIP) technology can be made out of recycled plastic and doesn't contain any hazardous material. Waste is also reduced, as packaging is part of the base circuit board.
The plastic circuit design consists of a plastic sheet with components inside divots. The conductor is screen-printed into a cover sheet that is thermally bonded to the circuit board. At the end of its life, the circuit can be disassembled and recycled. In comparison, traditional circuits are shredded and incinerated.
The CIP are also waterproof—meaning they could be ideal for clumsy cell phone users. And since the circuits are already cheaper than traditional printed circuit board (PCV) technology, there is little stopping them from quickly hitting store shelves. Silicon waste isn't going away any time soon—as solar power becomes more popular, so do silicon solar cells—but CIP could at least curb the silicon waste stream. Check out Thiel and Neeli's take on CIP technology below.