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posted by janrinok on Friday December 02, @07:36PM   Printer-friendly

Fungal mycelium skins can be used as substrates for electronic devices, physicists and materials scientists in Austria have shown. The team used the thin skins to create autonomous sensing devices consisting of mycelium batteries, a humidity and proximity sensor, and a Bluetooth communication module. As well as providing a flexible surface for electrical circuits to be patterned on, the skins are biodegradable and could help cut electronic waste.

The researchers produced the mycelium skins from the fungus Ganoderma lucidum, which grows on dead hardwood in mild temperate climates. To create electronic circuits, they used physical vapour deposition to place a thin layer of copper and gold on the skin. Metal was then removed from this surface layer via laser ablation, leaving behind conducting paths. The researchers named this novel approach to creating flexible and biodegradable electronics "MycelioTronics", describing their work in Science Advances.

While working on mushroom-based materials for building insulation, Kaltenbrunner and his colleagues noticed that the fungi were producing a dense and compact skin of mycelium, which is a network of fungal threads. These skins looked like paper and the scientists wondered if they could be used for flexible circuit boards.

The team grew mycelium skins by covering moist beech wood shavings inoculated with Ganoderma lucidum with a polyethylene separator grid and storing them at 25°C. After sufficient fungal growth, the separator was ripped off the substrate and the mycelium skin was carefully peeled off the separator. The wet mycelium was then dried and compressed to produce the final skins.

After deposition and laser ablation of the metal layer, the researchers tested the resulting mycelium circuit boards. They found that that they had high conductivity and thermal stability, and were able to withstand around 2000 bending cycles before the metal film started to crack and electrical resistance increased. The skins could also be folded several times with only moderate increases in resistance.

Next the researchers created a flat, 2 cm2 mycelium battery, using a mycelium skin soaked in a highly ion-conducting electrolyte solution (ammonium chloride and zinc chloride) as the separator, and two mycelium skins as the outer casing. This structure results in a high percentage of the battery being biodegradable, they claim.

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  • (Score: 5, Funny) by Rosco P. Coltrane on Friday December 02, @08:26PM (3 children)

    by Rosco P. Coltrane (4757) on Friday December 02, @08:26PM (#1280964)

    It's been high as a kite for 10 days and now it can't remember a single thing that occurred during that time period,

    • (Score: 4, Interesting) by JoeMerchant on Friday December 02, @08:38PM

      by JoeMerchant (3937) on Friday December 02, @08:38PM (#1280965)

      It's the Rocky Horror site maintenance plan:

      Let's do the time warp agaaain!

      Re: TFA

      I question the "environmental friendliness" of a process which metal plates the whole substrate then vaporizes insulation lines - any plans to recover the vaporized metal, or the metals from the used circuit? Doesn't seem to be much of an advance over printing on engineered paper, except for that natural variability in the substrate - leading to higher failure rates, and that's not terribly environmentally friendly either.

      If mushroom skin really is so much more environmentally friendly than paper, how about using it in some of the more well established use cases for paper?

      Україна досі не є частиною Росії. Слава Україні 🌻
    • (Score: 2) by ikanreed on Friday December 02, @08:57PM (1 child)

      by ikanreed (3164) on Friday December 02, @08:57PM (#1280967) Journal

      They did database backups at all on this site's budget. I'm cool with it.

      • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Rosco P. Coltrane on Friday December 02, @11:38PM

        by Rosco P. Coltrane (4757) on Friday December 02, @11:38PM (#1280971)

        Yeah I know. I saw NC's one liner this morning. The site's budget - or lack thereof - doesn't prevent us from making fun of it though :)

        Also, I've said it before and I'll say it again: this is a service that's being provided free of charge by people doing it on their own time. For that price, nobody has any right to complain about site issues even they wanted to. And honestly, you'd have to be pretty rotten to wanna complain about SN.

  • (Score: 2) by Username on Sunday December 04, @10:03AM

    by Username (4557) on Sunday December 04, @10:03AM (#1281113)

    Nothing is stopping people from using wood or paper. Nobody is going to since who would want a phone made from shrooms or paper. Well, except stoners.