Formas grant for research project that makes recycling more efficient


Alexander Dmitriev has been granted almost SEK 3 million from Formas annual open call 2021, for the research project " Sensor-ID: Materials identification system for the global recycling technology". The project will develop a material identification system for sorting recycling based on optical nanotechnology.

Sensor-id illustration

The project will develop ID tags that are only a few square millimeters colour points on the surface of various materials and packaging, such as metal, plastic, paper, glass and cardboard. The tags are made of optical nano-antennas and are read-out with the white light reflected from the tags. The system will make the sorting of recycling more time-efficient and quality-assured.

“We are facing the physical limits on how materials can be identified. In this project, we are making the next step,” says Alexander Dmitriev, professor at the Department of Physics.

In addition to material properties, the ID tags can also contain information such as manufacturer, recycling procedure and burning temperature.

The difference from other tagging techniques, such as QR codes or RFID tags, is that the ID tags themselves are effective sensors of material properties. The ID tag encodes the information it "reads out" from the material surface. This means that the tags can be deposited in any material step and still carry the same information when producing raw materials, when assembling materials in products or when recycling products into new raw materials.

“In this project we want to tackle all sorts of cardboards and see how we can optimise their recycling streams. It is essentially ‘nano-optics meets paper’, which are two research and technology areas not so easy to combine otherwise. It is really great having RISE on-board, bringing the advanced expertise in paper and cardboard to the project,” says Alexander Dmitriev.

The project is done together with RISE Department of Pulp, Paper and Packaging, and Department of Certification and Smart Hardware.

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Formas annual open call 2021