The Morning After: Water-soluble circuit boards could have a huge impact on e-waste

Infineon made PCB boards that can dissolve in hot water.

Jiva Materials

German semiconductor maker Infineon Technologies announced it’s making printed circuit boards (PCBs) that dissolve in water. Sourced from UK startup Jiva Materials, the plant-based Soluboard could provide a new way for the tech industry to reduce electronic waste.

Jiva’s biodegradable PCB is made of natural fibers and a halogen-free polymer with a much lower carbon footprint. A team at the University of Washington College of Engineering and Microsoft Research created a mouse using a Soluboard PCB as its core. The researchers found the Soluboard dissolved in hot water in under six minutes. The process also makes retrieving the valuable metals attached to it easier. “After [it dissolves], we’re left with the chips and circuit traces, which we can filter out,” said UW assistant professor Vikram Iyer, who worked on the mouse project.

It’s early days for the technology. And maybe I’m a Debby-downer (and clumsy), but it could increase the drama of me spilling coffee on my laptop.

– Mat Smith

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