GREENsPACK - Green Smart Packaging
Biodegradable materials are gaining attention, within the scientific community and the society, for problems related to food quality, climate change and the generation of electronic waste. Meanwhile, sensors are playing an increasing role in our lives, offering improvements for everyday health and security. Sensors are either cheap and disposable, therefore generating waste, or they contain materials that can be harmful for the environment. Biodegradable sensors offer minimal environmental impact and a degradation behavior that can be tuned for applications within zero-waste environmental sensing, food quality monitoring or personalized health.
Today, sensors for authentication and monitoring of perishable goods are too costly, cannot resolve single packaging units and need return chain logistics, whereas QR and bar codes and passive sensor tags rely on manual human-based readout and direct line of sight and NFC-based chipless tags contain silicon electronics and thus are not eco-friendly – all of these approaches inherently limit their widespread use in an economy that is desperately waiting for solutions.
The goal of this project is to realize ultra-low cost simple eco-friendly chipless sensor tags that are read fully automatically without altering existing infrastructure and processes in authentication and logistics, based on our joint expertise in biocompatible and biodegradable materials, sensors, printed electronics and zero power RF systems.
Our focus application is smart packaging of perishable goods, with a key use for pharmaceuticals that have to be kept below 25 °C and below 60% relative humidity. Achieving this in a simple, printed and fully biodegradable sensing tag is the big challenge that GREENsPACK will tackle and solve. Knowledge generated in the project will also be useful for further sensitive products monitoring such as biological samples and organs, for environmental, agriculture and physiological sensing, as well as for transient electronics.
Further information on the GREENsPACK Project can be found in the website of the Swiss National Science Foundation.