Greener: Researchers use fish scales to create sustainable electronic skin

Flexible electronics worn on the skin show great potential, ranging from health monitoring to gesture control,media reported. Recently, scientists have developed a wearable device made from fish scales, meaning that the type of device may soon become more environmentally friendly.

Greener: Researchers use fish scales to create sustainable electronic skin

Typically, a so-called “electronic skin” device consists of a bendable, stretchable, transparent plastic film base in which electronic components are embedded. They usually last no longer than a week, which means they will be thrown away after that.

With this in mind, a group of scientists from Nanjing University of Technology in China set out to develop a more environmentally friendly alternative.

Led by Hai-Dong Yu, Juqing Liu and Wei Huang, they started with discarded fish scales. The researchers extracted a gelatin from the collagen on the scales, then poured the substance into a petri dish and let it dry into a thin film. The film has been tested to be flexible, durable and transparent, conditions that allow it to be used in electronic skin.

While devices made from this film may not be used longer than conventional devices of their kind, they do not require the use of petroleum-based plastics, which will remain in landfills for a long time after they are discarded. In fact, if the film is mixed into water at 60 degrees C, it can be re-used in a few seconds, and if buried in the soil, it can be completely degraded within 24 days.

It is reported that the team used this film to build an alternating electrical luminescence device, which can bend and relax 1000 times after can continue to glow.

The study was published in ACS Nano.