Communication signal developed from environmentally friendly battery

Monday, 07 November, 2022

Communication signal developed from environmentally friendly battery

The NTT Corporation and the Graduate School of Frontier Sciences, the University of Tokyo (GSFS) have produced what is reportedly the world’s first communication signal using a battery and a circuit composed of environmentally friendly materials, free of scarce elements and hazardous substances. As the Internet of Things (IoT) proliferates, all sorts of objects are being transformed into devices, expanding their range of services and applications. However, concerns exist about the environmental impact of the disposal of consumables converted into sensor devices. To address this issue, the NTT is promoting the research and development of devices using materials that have a lot environmental impact once discarded.

NTT and GSFS are exploring improvements to environmentally friendly batteries by eliminating the use of scarce materials and hazardous substances; the two organisations have manufactured a proof of concept (PoC) sensor device made from an environmentally friendly circuit using organic semiconductor technology and have succeeded in generating what is reportedly the world’s first communication signal using these types of sustainable materials. This technology could be used for sensing devices in unsealing detection (for example, in single-use water bottles), sensing devices in pill packages to determine if a patient has forgotten to take their prescribed medication or reducing the environmental impact of observational weather buoys.

In 2018, the NTT manufactured and verified the battery operation of the Return-to-the-Earth-Battery (composed of fertiliser ingredients and organic materials). Then, the collaborators interviewed experts in the field of waste management to determine what materials should be selected to achieve low environmental impact. In response the pair eliminated materials containing scarce elements and hazardous substances. Using these materials, researchers at NTT collaborated with Professor Junichi Takeya’s laboratory at GSFS to create an environmentally friendly circuit.

This was achieved by developing an organic transistor manufacturing process in which all electrodes are made of carbon material (carbon-electrode organic transistors) and are used to construct analog oscillation circuits and digital modulation circuits with CMOS. Researchers formed a three-dimensional conductive porous structure, applied carbon as an electrode and increased the voltage by serialising the batteries.

The NTT will continue developing related technologies, collaborating with external organisations and companies to explore use cases unique to ‘low environmental impact’ and jointly implementing novel services. More details about this research are available in Scientific Reports.

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