Electronic waste is a really, really big problem. This year, a United Nations Environment Program report expected almost 50 million tons of electronic waste to be dumped, which is a 20% jump from 2015. Now, Stanford researchers have come up with a unique solution to the growing e-waste problem—biodegradable electronics.
Stanford engineer Zhenan Bao and her team were inspired by human skin, hoping to mimic its flexibility, self-healing, and biodegradability, if not its constant need for lotions, serums, and whatever gives Martha Stewart her glow. “We have achieved the first two [flexible and self-healing], so the biodegradability was something we wanted to tackle,” Bao said in a statement. In the May 1 issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Bao and her team unveiled a flexible electronic device that can easily degrade just by adding a weak acid, like vinegar (so keep your sad desk salad far away from this).
It’s a genius first step to tackling the world’s e-waste problem, and the team is hoping to continue researching new ways of cutting waste and, honestly, the world can hardly wait.