Circuit Board Close Up

New collaboration to combat e-waste


Electronic waste is a rapidly growing global issue, as well as the need for efficient ways to recycle it. The Department of Physics is part of a new collaboration that aims to radically improve e-waste recycling, with optical nano-sensors.

With the continuous growth of digital technologies, there is a corresponding exponential growth in electronic waste. However, recycling of e-waste is a difficult process, as many materials have various integrated parts that are difficult to separate and sort.

A new collaboration between the Department of Physics, the companies Swiss Vault and UrbanGold, and the Research Institute RISE, aim to bring forward a new product in sustainable innovation, that will help companies during their product development to simultaneously develop the recycling strategy.

Part of the EIC Greenhouse Gas programme

Alexandre Dmitriev and Rafael Cichelero, both researchers in nano-optics at the Department of Physics, participate in the collaboration. 

“The activity consists of identifying e-waste and monitor corrosion in data centers, using our home-built optical nano-sensors. Currently, we crystallize the ideas on the eventual product and do the technical verification of our ideas among the partners,” says Alexandre Dmitriev. 

The collaboration was brought together by the European Innovation Council Greenhouse Gas (EIC GHG) programme, that help and support green innovations in Europe that aim to combat greenhouse gas emissions.

Using nanotechnology for recycling identification tags

Sensor ID logo

With this group, the researchers at the Department of Physics are creating the nanotechnology for recycling identification tags, called SensorID. Swiss Vault are embedding them into their products, everything from server racks to the printed circuit boards, to be fully recycled. Urban Gold is designing the recycling flows for such electronic products, and RISE implement the real-time corrosion monitoring with such ID tags. 

“I’m extremely excited working in this environment, where real-world and very acute global challenges can be directly met with the advanced research we do at the Department of Physics,” says Alexandre Dmitriev.

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