Nanotech Could Build Greener Electronics

Sure, flat screen TVs use less electricity than their outdated ancestors. But here’s some sobering news: today’s energy-efficient boob tubes contain a whole lot of heavy metals and in the U.S. alone, an estimated 70% of heavy metals in landfills comes from discarded electronics. That brand new flat screen of TV in your living room is going to wind up somewhere in ten or fifteen years, and chances are, it’s going to be leaching heavy metals into the groundwater.

Tel Aviv University would like you to know they have a solution to the problem of heavy metals in flat screen TVs. It’s the application of a discovery in nanotechnology which uses self-assembled peptide nanotubes, eliminating the need for heavy metals in the optics and electronics industry. Researchers Nadav Amdursky and Prof. Gil Rosenman of Tel Aviv University’s Department of Electrical Engineering believe that their technology could not only make flat screen TV production green, it could even make medical equipment, such as subcutaneous ultrasound devices, more sensitive.

Organic LEDs

image via University of Tel Aviv

This “TV in a test tube” technology was inspired by a biomaterial involved in Alzheimer’s disease research discovered by Prof. Ehud Gazit of the university’s Department of Microbiology and Biotechnology.  Applying the scientific disciplines of both biology and physics, scientists there developed a new biological nanomaterial that forms the basis for this new, environmentally-friendly variety of light-emitting diode (LED).

“We are growing our own light sources,” says Amdursky, a doctoral student working under Prof. Rosenman’s supervision, in a statement. Not only that, but their own transmission devices also, as these organic LEDs generate more than light–they also generate a strong signal that can be used in other applications in the nano-world of motors, actuators and ultrasounds.These organic nano-lightsticks are made from carbon, making them cheap as well as environmentally friendly; the team from the University of Tel Aviv recently applied for a patent on this new technology.

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Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.