SusFE aims to develop functional electronics through manufacturing processes. These processes will be based on R2R production of wearable and diagnostic devices, all within the framework of green and circular economy.

SusFE will identify the best eco-friendly process concept for the three uses cases (smart wound monitoring bandage, blood self-sampling, POC diagnostic), which will all be done on the R2R platform for high volume manufacture. The eco-design of the individual use cases will be towards reduction in material usage, energy use as well as less space producing. Our approach will be inherently more eco-friendly with, as an example, power provided through a bioenzymatic fuel cell, which is more eco-friendly than existing batteries, or alternatively use of NFC which will offer a battery-less readout and reduction in the use of electronic components.

To achieve this more environmentally friendly approach, we will follow the following methodology:

We are going to integrate a combination of physical as well as chemo/biosensors and with the sensor elements being manufactured using R2R processing. The key elements include:

  • For the creation of biosensor, FlexIC (developed by PRAG’s FlexLogIC® semiconductor fabrication system) (Figura 1a) will be used for analog and digital electronics and the atmospheric plasma for immobilisation of the bioreceptor for biosensing.
  • For energy management, the bioenzymatic fuel cell (Figure 1c) from BeFC will be used. Paper-based biofuel cells are an eco-friendly and sustainable energy solution for low-power electronics. Using enzymes immobilised on printed carbon electrodes, biofuels are catalysed via redox reactions to drive an electronic load. This bioinspired technology is both metal-free and plastic-free, providing an organic energy solution capable of providing milliwatts of power, and capacities similar to alkaline-based chemistries.
  • For system integration, the need to bond technology components on a base substrate requires bonding processes that typically involve the use of wet chemistry, including solvents. MPG’s (Molecular Plasma Group) cold atmospheric plasma (Figure 1b) systems will be scalable and integrated into an R2R process to eliminate or greatly reduce the use of wet chemicals and solvents by modifying the surface to improve adhesion. The fabrication of biomedical sensors requires the immobilization of receptor biomolecules on a transducer element on substrate. MPG atmospheric plasma technology can create a rapid, one-step deposition technique that can be applied to a wide range of substrates.

Figure. R2R screen printing machine ©FraunhoferEMFT

Figure. Example of patterned metal on flexible polymer substrates prepared by FhG ©FraunhoferEMFT

Electrochemical biosensors are well known as sensitive tools for detecting various substances of clinical, pharmaceutical, food and environmental origin. Demanding eco-friendliness and sustainability paves the way to rethink the designs, materials, and fabrication methods for such useful mass-products. Currently, commercial electrochemical sensors are mostly fabricated on glass, silicon, and other rigid surfaces which are neither biodegradable nor sustainable.

Complicated methods and non-eco-friendly materials are used for fabrication of such devices. SusFE will fabricate an eco-friendly, sustainable electrochemical sensor platform with microfluidics on bio-based flexible substrate material and use methods which allow reduction of chemical wastes in sensor fabrication and minimizes the use of toxic/hazardous reagents and solvent systems in the process. Ecological choices will be considered in all steps starting from structural designs to processes and waste treatment.