Wood-based nanocellulose is being tested in the manufacturing of electronics components. The project aims at developing printed electronics.
’Nanocellulose is a natural material that can replace fossil plastics,’ says postdoctoral researcher Sami Myllymäki in a media release by the University of Oulu. Being soluble in water, the material is easy to recycle.
Myllymäki, who works in the Microelectronics Research Unit at the University of Oulu, believes that wood-based electronics can be used to replace plastics..’Though the material is brittle, it’s still an option with a great deal of potential.’
The biomass needed for the project is tailor-made by the Fibre and Particle Engineering Research Unit at the University of Oulu. Different technologies are used to make components of the cellulose, including mould casting and 2D and 3D printing.
Nanocellulose has many advantages: lightness, mechanical strength, small electricity loss and good availability. ’Lightness and small losses are important. Signal loss due to the material must be minimised,’ Myllymäki explains.
The best materials can consist of 99 percent of air. This will cause the smallest loss.
An ultra-light material has already been printed for research use. In these materials nanocellulose is used as the bonding agent. Cellulose forms the supporting structure and produces a surface which can be printed on.
Factors important in electronics manufacturing include manufacturing temperature and energy use. Lower temperatures are aimed at, and in many cases manufacturing in ambient temperature is already possible.
At the moment, the project is developing a 6G radio device for ultra-rapid communications. ’6G means that the signal frequency is 300 gigahertz, and the wavelength used enables the antenna to be just one millimetre in size,’ says Myllymäki.
The researchers are already using nanocellulose in lenses which focus the radio transmitter signal to the receiver antenna. This allows the transmitter range to be extended.
Thanks to a new technology it is possible to develop a protective coating for the lenses to improve their durability and offset the negative effects of water solubility. ’At the recycling stage, however, water solubility is a significant advantage,’ says Myllymäki in the media release.