As technology rapidly progresses and consumers continue to hunger for the latest gadgets, an awful lot of out-dated cellphones and other e-waste is making its way into landfill. Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign hope to help alleviate this e-waste by developing dissolvable electronics. While such water-soluble materials could pose a problem for anyone prone to dropping their cellphone in the toilet, the scientists hope the technology will go a long way towards eliminating e-waste and reducing pollution.
Researcher John Rogers is leading the “Born to Die” project to develop dissolvable electronics. The idea is for electronics to be transient, rather than having to replace a device as technology improves, the device will simply dissolve once it’s reached the end of its use. Whether it will indicate an expiration warning to the user remains to be seen, but Rogers’ plan is to divert the barrage of out-dated electronics from landfills by having them disappear.
Although research has just begun, the idea of what dissolvable electronics will do to water supplies is a major concern. The influx of metals from a dissolvable device could create toxic conditions in water supplies, especially if every person owns and discards their dissolvable electronics in the sink or household drain.
Until the technology is further researched, it is hard not to assume that dissolvable electronics is just exchanging one problem for another, endangering water supplies instead of filling up landfills.