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Mushrooms get a makeover in electronic devices
Anjali Marar | Wednesday, 23 November 2016 AT 10:43 PM IST
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PUNE: A bunch of researchers here have just proven that mushrooms are not just meant to be eaten but the carbon obtained from it can be tweaked into electronic devices as small as wearables like watches, health sensors and activity trackers.

A team of scientists from city-based Indian Institute of Science, Education and Research (IISER), led by Satishchandra Ogale, have devised a unique micro-supercapacitor from carbon obtained from mushrooms.

Experts are of the opinion that this mechanism of manufacturing micro supercapacitors is extremely cost-effective, light in weight and highly flexible, making it suitable to be fitted into any small wearable electronics, which is one of the growing areas in the technology applications of current times.

“Mushroom being a fungus, they can be even cultivated on any organic waste which also gives it an edge to be undertaken in commercial manufacturing too,” scientist Ogale told Sakal Times. The best application of these micro supercapacitors is to power any type of electronic devices often used to track performance against time by sportsmen and health sensors to check blood sugar levels, etc.

It was senior research fellow Poonam Yadav’s brainchild to try using mushroom. She said that since mushroom has a high nitrogen content, it can yield nitrogen rich carbon which has very high conductivity.

“Along with the nitrogen, some minerals are also there in the mushroom which helps in getting highly porous carbon with improved conductivity,” said Yadav.

The researchers first made the mushrooms undergo an extreme heating process known as pyrolysis in order to obtain the high quality carbon. This carbon was then pasted on a flexible conducting sheet and made to undergo laser scribing treatment to form properly arranged supercapacitor electrodes in micro-scale in order to obtain maximum capacity.

“The laser scribing technique is an extremely quick process and it is possible to get 1cm×1cm device having ordered tiny micro-electrodes in just 8-10 seconds. It is possible to get over 1,000 pieces of micro-supercapacitors from every sheet in a few hours. In an industrial setting, this could be made significantly faster,” said another senior research fellow in this project, Aniruddha Basu.
 
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