Innovation That Matters

The scientists settled on the gelatin found in fish scales for their wearable | Photo source Sebastian Pena Lambarri on Unsplash

Single-use electronic wearables made from fish scales

Computing & Tech

Specifically designed as a plastic replacement, the biowaste-based material is soft, translucent and biodegradable

Spotted: Researchers from Nanjing Tech University’s Institute of Advanced Materials have created a flexible film strong enough to support electronics. Temporary displays, whether on the body or for an event, are almost always plastic. Searching for an ecologically positive alternative, the team of scientists settled on the gelatin found in fish scales.

A waste product, fish scales are typically plentiful, inexpensive and, very importantly, biodegradable. After the gelatin solution dries, the resulting film is flexible, soft and see-through. Electronic components are layered onto the film, creating a light-up wearable and display. As well as being biodegradable, the film is dissolvable in seconds in hot water (60 degrees Celsius) and can be reused.

Strong enough to withstand vigorous bending, the material’s potential uses are broad, ranging from temporary tattoos to foldable, flexible display devices. It may also prove useful for various methods in the next stage of unobtrusive health monitoring.

Other interesting innovations in wearable technology recently spotted by Springwise include a smart jumpsuit that measures infant motor development and an AI-enabled asthma monitor.

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