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Researchers Demo Technique for Recycling Nanowires in Electronics

silver nanowires which are part of the recycling approach

The approach breaks down silver nanowires for re-use.

Credit: Yong Zhu / North Carolina State University

Researchers at North Carolina State University demonstrated a technique for retrieving nanowires from electronic devices that have reached the end of their utility and then using those nanowires in new devices.

"There is a lot of interest in recycling electronic materials because we want to both reduce electronic waste and maximize the use we get out of rare or costly materials," says Yuxuan Liu, a Ph.D. student at NC State. "We've demonstrated an approach that allows us to recycle nanowires, and that we think could be extended to other nanomaterials"

The work is described in "Recycling of Nanowire Percolation Network for Sustainable Soft Electronics," published in the journal Advanced Electronic Materials.

The technique separates silver nanowire networks from the rest of the materials in a device and collects them in a solution. "Those nanowires can then be used to create a new network and incorporated into a new sensor or other devices," says Professor Yong Zhu.

The researchers found that the nanowires could be recycled four times without harming performance. "It's a tremendous reduction in waste," Zhu says.

From North Carolina State University
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