At the rate of smartphone and tablet adoption around the world, it goes without saying that we are faced with a very, very real issue – that our junkyards are about to be filled to the brim with electronic waste, and getting rid of them in a clean manner without causing harm to our environment is a considerable challenge. Well, scientists from the UK’s National Physical Laboratory (NPL) might have stumbled upon a method that will definitely keep most folks happy – by working on a printed circuit board which will actually disintegrate when it is immersed in hot water.
The board is made out of “unzippable polymeric layers”, which ironically are able to withstand prolonged thermal cycling and damp heat stressing, although they will separate from one another whenever exposed to hot water. Looks like your packet of powdered instant coffee and this new generation of printed circuit boards would make bosom buddies! Melting the board would make it a snap for resistors, capacitors and integrated circuits to be scraped off afterwards, allowing them to be reused since they remain fully intact. To sweeten the deal, this particular material can be used for flat, rigid boards, as well as for flexible electronics and three-dimensional structures.