Published: 02 July 2019

Greener electronics research a great example of collaboration and outreach

Surrey’s Advanced Technology Institute (ATI) has researched the use of everyday eco-materials for printed electronics in a successful team effort which included academics, researchers and a sixth-form student, hosted as part of the SATRO research placement scheme.

Brice Le Borgne
Printec electronics

The research, which was published in Electronics (MDPI) on 18 June 2019, was a collaboration between the ATI and Institut d'Électronique et de Télécommunications, University of Rennes 1, France. Bo-Yan Chung, a sixth form student currently studying for her A levels, took part in the project as part of the SATRO research placement scheme which aims to engage young people across the south east in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects. SATRO students have been hosted at Surrey by Dr Radu Sporea since 2013.

Dr Brice Le Borgne, a postdoctoral research assistant in the ATI, supervised Bo-Yan’s work throughout the project in an excellent example of Surrey’s Student-Staff Partnerships programme. 

The research aimed to develop innovative passive electronic devices using inexpensive everyday eco-friendly materials such as carbon soot or egg white which were cleverly handled to make them printable using a standard desktop printer. The team’s main achievement was to realise a device that filters electric signals’ high frequencies such as the ones in radio tuners, printed on a sheet of paper. They also conducted a thorough analysis of the materials and the robustness of the device in order to help researchers from all over the world to reproduce the work.

Dr Le Borgne said: “The planet cannot afford an ever-growing production of electronics devices as they exist now, so alternative solutions are needed. We’d like to encourage the electronics community to push forward research on the use of eco-friendly materials, and also encourage DIYers to spread this idea by providing them with the tools to produce green electronics at home.”

Bo-Yan Chung said: “Having little background knowledge and no previous understanding of the work environment, I was able to adapt quickly to the intensive research and hands-on approach. Working with eggs on a daily basis was rather messy but made my time no less enjoyable! The project has given me an insight into how readily available resources can be used as components in electronics as an alternative to less sustainable materials. I’d like to thank Brice for this incredible opportunity.”

Dr Sporea commented: “This is the sixth consecutive year we’ve hosted SATRO and Nuffield summer placement students in my team, and it’s wonderful to see high quality research being produced in these comparatively short placements, in both theoretical and practical projects. This is of course as a result of the ability of the excellent local students we host every year, but also the involvement of the whole team in successfully designing and running these ambitious projects.”

The research paper, ‘Eco-Friendly Materials for Daily-Life Inexpensive Printed Passive Devices: Towards “Do-It-Yourself” Electronics’ was published in Electronics (MPDI) in June 2019.


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