Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign envision a future where cell phones, tablets and other electronics will be able to dissolve in water, ridding us of the problem of e-waste.
To anyone who has ever accidentally dropped a cell phone in the toilet, or who cares about, you know, the water supply, this might not sound like an especially great new trick. But according to the Associated Press, "The goal of the "born to die" program is to design transient technology that can dissolve at the end of its useful life, thus saving space in landfills and reducing waste."Of course, the research isn't there yet to create entire electronics that accomplish this (will it ever, safely, be?) but the team has created a chip made on silk that dissolves when sprayed with water.
"You don't need your cell phone to last for 25 or 50 years," John Rogers, a professor of Materials Science and Engineering at the university told AP. "Nobody wants to keep it for that long anyway."
True, but no one wants heavy metals and other weird stuff entering our soils or groundwater either. Sometimes the idea of disposable, or dissolvable, sounds like it comes with more potential problems than the one solution it provides (less waste) is worth. If this technology is aimed at consumer electronics, it is simply a band-aid solution to a bigger problem. But... that's another post entirely.