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Researchers at the University of Groningen (RUG) have developed a dextrin (starch) based polymer that enables the creation of a biodegradable soft material for sensors.
Editorial office / Groningen

No toxic solvents are required for the production process, and all reactants are biological, making the new polymer (called ASSETm) completely ‘green’. The properties of this material are easily customisable, including molecular weight, mechanical strength and degradation rate.

Soft, stretchable polymers are found in various types of electronic devices that need to record body functions, such as heart rate or blood pressure. Unlike the silicone and polyurethane elastomers traditionally used for this purpose, ASSETm is cheaper, easier to scale up and greener to produce. Because the material is dielectric, it can generate its own energy via friction. ASSETm can disintegrate within a few weeks to a few months. All that is then left behind are water and CO2.

With this material, a self-powered touch device was manufactured with a fast response time of 60 ms, comparable to a commercial pressure sensor. The intention is to integrate ASSETm into wearables applications in the future. The 3D printability and self-repair capabilities of this material are currently being investigated.

The research has been published in the scientific journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces.

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