Fish Scales as Tech

Hi everyone, happy Green Tech Thursday!

Today’s topic is fish scales as electronic displays.

You may or may not have noticed that the display of your computer, phone, tablet, and other electrical devices is mostly made from plastic. With foldable phones coming to the market, it is crucial that the displays are flexible enough to withstand being bent hundreds of times whilst retaining their transparency. A display that’s not transparent won’t be able to display anything at all!

Researchers in China have come up with a very creative way of substituting plastic displays with an environmentally friendly and fully biodegradable option (and if you read the title you might already know the answer): Fish Scales! With 70.5 million tons of fish waste produced every year, and a little more than 2 million tons being fish scales, there is no shortage of supplies.

So how do you go from a fish scale to an electronic display? First, the researchers developed a gelatin from the fish scales, which is then turned into a film and tested for flexibility. The films are able to withstand being folded more than 1,000 times without losing their transparency. Silver nanowires and light-emitting materials made from zinc sulfide and copper are then inserted into the fish scale film to complete the display. Voila, now you have a flexible, environmentally friendly electronic display!

My favorite part about the fish scale displays is their biodegradability. Should they find their way to a landfill (which they certainly will), they will decompose after 24 days in the soil. Along with being biodegradable, they can also be recycled completely by being dissolved in warm water. I don’t know what this means in regards to it being waterproof or water resistant but it’s always a safe bet to keep your electronics dry and out of the rain.

Our future is green as biological materials are being considered in many different disciplines. Medicine, construction, energy, and daily life will all be impacted by these changes. While we still have a long way to go, real progress is happening every day!

Thank you for reading and see you next week.

Have a wonderful Thursday!