Printed circuit boards (PCBs) are ubiquitous and are the substrates used to assemble various electronic components.
But as the life cycle of electronic products ends, most PCB plastics cannot be recycled and landed as garbage.
However, researchers have found a more environmentally friendly alternative, that is “Ganoderma lucidum“.
An Austrian research team has found that the skin of Ganoderma lucidum is so durable that it can replace plastic in the PCB production process.
Martin Kaltenbrunner, a soft-matter physicist at Johannes Kepler University Linz, found that the dry skin of reishi mushrooms has many of the properties of PCB plastic polymers.
Writing in the journal Science Advances, Kaltenbrunner said the skin of reishi is thin, elastic and retains its structural integrity after thousands of physical manipulations.
It has good insulation and can withstand high temperatures above 200 degrees Celsius, even exceeding the temperature of 150 degrees Celsius that high-temperature PCBs can withstand.
Dr. Kaltenbrunner and team members tested the function of Ganoderma lucidum skin by layering copper and chromium on top of Ganoderma lucidum.
After that, laser ablation technology is used to create conductive traces on the metallized Ganoderma lucidum skin.
It turned out that the prototype was just as conductive as a standard PCB, but biodegradable.
Ganoderma is expected to last hundreds of years if kept dry in electronic devices.
However, it breaks down within two weeks when exposed to moisture and ultraviolet light.
Dr. Kaltenbrunner pointed out that PCB is the most difficult to recycle or reuse in computers, mobile phones or tablets.
It is usually synthesized from petroleum raw materials and cannot be biodegraded or reused. It can only be incinerated and landfilled. Therefore, replacing plastic with sustainable materials is an important first step.
The research team hopes to continue testing the modified Ganoderma lucidum skin from real-world devices,
According to their paper, dried Ganoderma lucidum skins can be used in battery separators and housings in addition to being used as circuit boards.