Metamaterial May Redefine Printed Circuit Board Manufacturing, Recycling

October 20, 2012

April Flowers for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online

It’s probably a safe bet that you have never been in a big electronics retailer like Best Buy or Comp USA and seen a sign boasting the percentage of recycled electronic components that a laptop or smart TV uses. This suits the electronics industry, as many of the leading companies make their money selling more and more new components.

A new technology from Oxford University, however, may just change this paradigm forever.

“It is a technology that is going to fundamentally change the way we build computers,” says Dr. Mark Gostock, a technology transfer manager at the University of Oxford’s ISIS Innovation. “And there are going to be a lot of people who make a whole lot of money from the way we do it now who aren’t going to be happy when they hear what we have got.”

“The PCB [printed circuit board] industry in particular has already made a big investment in manufacturing infrastructure and they are not going to want to change,” said Chris Stevens, engineering lecturer and successful academic-entrepreneur.

The team started with the technology behind the Pentagon’s cloaking device and came up with a new technology to replace the solder, pins and wiring from conventional computers with LEGO-like blocks of silicon. The blocks are stuck to a Velcro-like metamaterial board capable of wirelessly transmitting or conducting both data and power. This is science fiction transformed into reality, with wallpaper that can connect the components of your entertainment system and computers designed as wristbands.

“We saw the potential first of this technology because most people have been looking at metamaterials from a physics perspective, in terms of cloaking devices or optics, and other potential applications like this use of radio frequencies were seen to be niche, with little research excitement,” says Stevens in a statement.

Read more: Metamaterial Aims To Redefine Printed Circuit Boards – Science News – redOrbit.

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