Our innovation is a cellulose-based PCB, which uses laser-induced graphene as conductive material, to reduce e-waste and the carbon footprint in consumer electronics

About

Our team was the inventor of Paper-E technology, which consists of replacing the silicon used in electronic products with eco-friendly metal oxides and cellulose. In our vision, cellulose can not only act as a substrate, but also as a dielectric layer, becoming an active component of the electronic itself.

During the last years we’ve been testing new materials and processes for electronics, always thinking on identifying solutions to reduce the carbon footprint and bring more sustainable materials and technologies to replace common metals used in consumer electronics like cooper, aluminium, silver, gold and substrates, such as silicon.

We can support electronic producers to develop new products, using greener materials and implementing technological processes with a less carbon footprint impact.
Our innovation relies on the development of sustainable electronics based on:

- Flexible recyclable substrates: cellulose-based materials like paper, cork and wood. These economic and disposable materials have good dielectric performance as proved by our team.

- Eco-friendly conductive materials, like graphene, that can be directly patterned onto the substrate by laser-induced technique. Thus, it is possible to have 3D patterns of graphene, with high electrical and thermal conductivity, avoiding e-waste. It is a quite relevant subtractive technique that can be used on all types of surfaces/substrates containing carbon in its constitution, contributing so for spending much less raw materials for electronic purposes.

Key Benefits

Our innovation enables the manufacture of flexible, highly conductive and robust surfaces and functional materials for the printed electronics market by synthesising graphene from paper and other cellulose-related materials.

Consumer electronic companies will have a sustainable approach to reduce the carbon footprint of different type of PCBs used in consumer electronic devices on three different ways:

1) Sustainable substrate
The use of natural cellulosic substrates can reduce about 60% of the carbon footprint of the PCB substrate when compared to the standard epoxy and glass fibre.

2) Sustainable conductive circuits
Using graphene as a conductive circuit through subtractive technologies can overtake the dependency on metals like copper and gold to move electricity, preserving these raw materials.

3) Sustainable process
Our laser-induced graphene technique is energy and material-efficient. Compared to the actual flagship solution, screen-printing technique, it doesn’t need a stencil and it is rapid, lower-cost and easily customizable. It offers the electronic manufacturers the possibility of developing tailor-made electronic circuits, only needing a computer drawing of the circuit and a laser machine, with zero waste.

To summarise, our innovation is cost-effective, scalable, simple and highly efficient. We are bypassing the need to use scarce and non-ecological metallic materials in addition to expensive and time-consuming processes. It uses only sustainable materials and techniques that won’t contribute to the waste of electrical and electronic equipment, so it will reduce e-waste and the carbon footprint.

Applications

Our innovation is applicable to the market segment of consumer electronics. Where we have an immediate advantage is for products that do not require high temperature changes.
For the production, it is possible to find all materials in nature. Those are economic, renewable and non-pollutant.

We are applying our technology in educational applications, where engineer students apply the principles of greener electronics. We already have a working prototype of a LED light structure. Together with an industry player we could work to scale the applications on common electronic devices such as:

A) Cork-based PCBs for keyboards, mouses or gaming applications
B) Portable lab-analysis systems for health and food industry
C) Electronic sensors, like temperature, humidity, smoke and gas sensors

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