back to article WOODEN computer chips reveal humanity's cyber elf future

Boffins have developed a biodegradable semiconductor chip made almost entirely of wood in an effort to alleviate the environmental burden of electronic devices. Technicians from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, in collaboration with the Department of Agriculture Forest Products Laboratory (FPL), have demonstrated the …

Boffin

If you like cellulose chips then you'll love cellulose LCDs

http://www.nature.com/am/journal/v6/n1/full/am201369a.html

0
0
Silver badge

Now your computer can literally rot away.

I predict a big industry in avoiding premature biodegradation.

9
0
Coat

re: Now your computer can literally rot away.

I wooden be happy if that happened.

15
0
Silver badge
Coat

Re: re: Now your computer can literally rot away.

I twigged to that problem as well.

13
0
TRT
Silver badge

Re: re: Now your computer can literally rot away.

It might suit some applications.

0
0
Silver badge

Re: re: Now your computer can literally rot away.

>It might suit some applications.

You think they'll branch out?

4
0

Obsolescence is now built in!!

2
0
Silver badge

so that crap 80's electronics company "Bush" had the right idea...they were just before their time...

1
0
Anonymous Coward

Gives a whole new meaning to the term "bit rot"…

2
0
Bronze badge
Joke

This is so exciting

I've got wood

11
0
Joke

Re: This is so exciting

How degrading.

12
0
Happy

Re: This is so exciting

"I wooden be happy if that happened."

"I twigged to that problem as well."

"I've got wood"

"How degrading."

Dear dear dear have all the sub-editors of the tabloids just started reading El Reg?

You should all be ashamed of yourselves!

1
14
Silver badge

Re: This is so exciting

"Yew should all be ash-amed of yourselves!"

TFTFY

30
0
Silver badge
Facepalm

Re: This is so exciting

You're out on a limb with that one!

6
0
Coat

Re: This is so exciting

Fir goodness sake people, you really are taking the pith! Stop having a larch and think outside the box! This tech is oakay, and will become really poplar, as long as the world isn't full of Luddites pining for the alder days.

Ahem, got my coat, think I'd better make like a tree and leave...

14
0

Re: This is so exciting

Yes, it's plane to see that this is an idea that could bear fruit.

3
0

Re: This is so exciting

I'm surprised Apple aren't branching out into this area.

2
0

Re: This is so exciting

Haven't been here long?

Corny subheadings are quite poplar round here, even if you apparently don't cedar point.

I ashly thought they were quite funny

7
0
Silver badge

Re: This is so exciting

<p>I ashly thought they were quite funny|</p>

<p>but they don't seem to be very poplar</p>

2
0

Re: This is so exciting

Just so you know.

My post above was supposed to be a joke, hence the smiley.

Ah well.

0
0
Coat

Re: This is so exciting

"My post above was supposed to be a joke, hence the smiley."

Ah, you should have used the joak icon. People round here sometimes have an inibility to take comments fig-uratively.

2
0

Re: This is so exciting

Posts jokingly complaining about puns, pretty much have to include a pun of their own.

It's practically mandatree.

7
0
Silver badge

Re: This is so exciting

Someone will no doubt find some problem with this to bark about.

1
0
Silver badge

Re: This is so exciting

Finally software writers will have an exuse for bit rot...

3
0

Re: This is so exciting

I don't think mulch of these puns.

2
0
Silver badge

Re: This is so exciting

No Luddites, just saboteurs.

0
0
Silver badge
Coat

Re: This is so exciting @ TitterYeNot

You mean: ... make like a tree and leaf.

FIFY.

Think I'd better bough out as well.

2
0
Devil

Re: This is so exciting

Sorry, nematoad, life can be a beech that way. Seems rooted in our nature. ;^)

3
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: This is so exciting

I don't think mulch of these puns.

Someone planted the seed earlier in this thread and just look how they've sprouted!

2
0

This post has been deleted by its author

A couple of concerns:

Is the epoxy environmentally friendly? We see a lot of fuss make about phthalate-free and the like.

What about spontaneous combustion? This is all well and good for "support chips" and. I agree even replacing those could be helpful but I wouldn't want a high-wattage graphics card made from paper.

6
0
Silver badge

Re: A couple of concerns:

The printed circuit cards themselves are already made of paper.

1
0

Re: A couple of concerns:

Well, in the same way that a GRP structure is made from glass -- it's there but it's hardly recyclable. So, yes, perhaps I am being a bit silly typing about combustion but then perhaps these aren't really made from "paper" in any sense that we know it.

Don't get me wrong, I think it's great that they could cut down on things like Gallium Arsenide and do think this is a great idea. Perhaps it's just the El Reg article putting too much emphasis on the "wooden" part.

2
0
Boffin

Re: A couple of concerns:

Non-critical consumer and low-frequency 'economical' circuit cards (e.g. parts of a television and of audio amplifier boards) are made from SRBP (super resin bonded paper) but this material is totally unsuited to high-frequency or high-density boards, where FR4 epoxy-fibreglass is used or even ceramics for SHF / microwave circuits.

One won't find many SRBP cards in an average desktop PC either for the same reasons.

Printed circuit substrate properties such as thermal expansion, dielectric constants, physical stability, copper / gold bonding strength and processing tolerance (chemical and thermal) are vital considerations especially as one drives higher in the frequency and density domains.

There is no 'fits all sizes' material for PCB manufacture.

1
0

Built in expiry?

How stable are these biodegradable materials while still on a working circuit board? If they degrade and the equipment prematurely fails as a result, they will just be increasing the amount of waste and cost of replacement. I'm sure manufacturers would be overjoyed if it forces consumers to buy more frequently. Some of us have electronic equipment still in use after twenty or more years.

It's one thing if your computer gets a virus infection, but what about a fungus infection?

7
0
Silver badge
Trollface

Re: Built in expiry?

I guess "bit rot" just acquired a whole new meaning...

9
0
Silver badge

@Andy Non

... <ring> <ring>... Hello, my name's .... there's a problem with your Windows computer.... You appear to have a fungus....

Someone'll try it and many will fall for it.

Seriously, though you make a good point. If this thing can be developed to a level of acceptable reliability, ie essentially indefinite lifetime, then all well and good. If it becomes another excuse for planned obsolescence then not good.

Its early days. This is just a labgasm at the moment. (More research and much more funding needed, please). It may lead to who knows where for new devices / applications.

My main concern would be repeatability / reliability in mass production. We have organics elsewhere in electronics. They seem to have cracked the reliability / lifetime problems with lcd screens, organic led screens not yet. Probably the best comparison today might be the humble cd or dvd. Great variations in quality and reliability and precious little concrete info on which are best.

It'd be a shame if an exicting new technology got a bad name because of poor / cost reduced manufacturing processes.

1
0
TRT
Silver badge

Oh crap...

My CPU got rooted. :(

22
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Oh crap...

Did you plant it?

1
0
Silver badge

Is it really 'friendly'?

"The majority of material in a chip is support. We only use less than a couple of micrometers for everything else, ..."

Isn't that true for silicon base chips as well? Silicon is not poisonous.

If the cellulose base degrades, doesn't that release the gallium arsenide (etc) active components? If a silicon chip is disposed of, at least the metals and other compounds are safely and physically locked into it.

It may be that the driving force behind this development is the energy and other costs of manufacture, especially for short run batches of specialist devices.

5
0

Re: Is it really 'friendly'?

I was puzzled by this to so decided to read the original article.

In the case of RF electronics, gallium arsenide (GaAs) is used as the chip substrate not silicon. The technique basically involves slicing off the active top layer from the GaAs substrate and sticking it on to the cellulose substrate instead, resulting in around a hundred fold reduction in GaAs used in the chip. The remainder of the original GaAs substrate can then be reused to make more chips.

The technique works with silicon as well, but does not seem to provide any the environmental advantage.

5
0
Silver badge

Re: Is it really 'friendly'?

"The technique works with silicon as well, but does not seem to provide any the environmental advantage."

There's no need to use the technique with silicon. Silicon's ridiculously abundant and non-contaminating, so it's a case of "If it ain't broke..."

0
0
Silver badge
Coat

Some you win,

cellulose

12
0
TRT
Silver badge

Its bark...

is worse than its byte.

11
0
Anonymous Coward

Ever hear of the mute dog tree?

It had no bark.

0
0
Silver badge

Cheapo biodegradable freebie's at the local grease joint?!

Why do i suspect that this is destined to land in things like this...

0
0
Meh

Have they actually thought this through?

Sound like accelerated planned obsolescence. No need to worry about your non-removable battery dying, your circuit boards will biodegrade long before that happens. What controls when this stuff begins to degrade?

And microchips are generally a very small part of most electronic systems, so while they go green and eat themselves the rest of a product by volume - say >>99% - still needs to be recycled the old fashioned way. What's next? Go back to making everything out of wood?

Dunno about anyone else, but I like my electronics to last, not start biodegrading after a couple of weeks/months/years. When - if - they do eventually die I take them to be recycled. What happens beyond that point is out of my control.

Build stuff to last, make sure it can be properly recycled when it does eventually pop its clogs. Being biodegradable is fine for shopping bags. Please please please don't apply it to electronics.

7
0
TRT
Silver badge

Re: Have they actually thought this through?

They found a bug. Eating.

3
0
Silver badge
Joke

Branching out in a new direction.

1
0
TRT
Silver badge

LDX #$08

dec:

DEX

STX $0200

CPX #$03

BNE dec

STX $0201

BRK

3
0

Page:

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Forums

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2018