Bio-Based Materials for Electronics

Detailed overview of innovation with sample startups and prominent university research

What it is

Bio-based materials for electronics represent a groundbreaking approach to sustainable technology development, utilizing renewable resources to create eco-friendly alternatives for various electronic components. These materials are derived from biomass sources like cellulose, lignin, chitosan, and other natural polymers, offering a compelling solution to reduce the environmental impact of electronic waste and dependence on non-renewable resources.

Impact on climate action

Bio-Based Materials for Electronics offer a sustainable alternative to traditional electronics manufacturing, reducing reliance on fossil fuels and minimizing carbon emissions. By replacing conventional materials with renewable sources like plant-based polymers, it fosters a greener tech industry, contributing positively to global climate action efforts and sustainability goals.


  • Biopolymer Modification and Functionalization: Transforming natural polymers into materials suitable for electronic applications involves:
    • Conductive Biopolymers: Modifying biopolymers to enhance their electrical conductivity, enabling their use in circuits and other electronic components. This often involves incorporating conductive fillers, such as carbon nanotubes or graphene, into the biopolymer matrix.
    • Dielectric Biopolymers: Optimizing biopolymers for use as dielectric materials, which are crucial for insulating and separating conductive elements in electronic devices.
    • Biocompatible and Biodegradable Electronics: Developing bio-based materials that are compatible with living tissues and can degrade harmlessly within the body, paving the way for biodegradable implants and sensors.
  • Flexible and Printed Electronics: Bio-based materials can be processed into flexible films and substrates, opening up new possibilities for flexible and printed electronics. This enables the creation of lightweight, bendable, and even wearable electronic devices.
  • Sustainable Manufacturing Processes: Bio-based materials for electronics often utilize environmentally friendly manufacturing processes, minimizing waste generation and reducing the use of hazardous chemicals.

TRL : 4-7 (depending on the specific material and application)

Prominent Innovation themes

  • Bio-Based Transistors and Circuits: Developing bio-based transistors and integrated circuits using conductive biopolymers, enabling the creation of sustainable and potentially biodegradable electronics.
  • Bio-Based Sensors and Actuators: Utilizing bio-based materials to create sensors that can detect various stimuli, such as light, temperature, or pressure, and actuators that can convert electrical signals into mechanical motion.
  • Bio-Based Batteries and Energy Storage: Exploring the use of bio-based materials in batteries and energy storage devices, offering a sustainable alternative to conventional battery materials.
  • Self-Healing Bio-Based Electronics: Developing electronic devices with self-healing properties, where bio-based materials can repair damage and extend the lifespan of electronic components.
  • Biocompatible and Biodegradable Implants: Creating bio-based electronic implants, such as pacemakers or neurostimulators, that can degrade harmlessly within the body after they have served their purpose.

Other Innovation Subthemes

  • Conductive Biopolymer Engineering
  • Dielectric Biopolymer Optimization
  • Biocompatible Electronic Materials
  • Flexible Electronics Development
  • Sustainable Manufacturing Techniques
  • Bio-Based Transistor Innovation
  • Bio-Based Sensor Technology
  • Self-Healing Electronic Devices
  • Biodegradable Implant Technologies
  • Biomimetic Electronic Adhesives
  • Methane-Derived Bio-Based Thermoplastics
  • Bio-Based Ink Formulations
  • Transparent Bio-Based Films
  • Sustainable Battery Materials
  • Printed Bio-Electronic Components
  • Flexible Electronic Substrates
  • Biodegradable Electronic Packaging

Sample Global Startups and Companies

  1. Cellulose Lab:
    • Technology Focus: Cellulose Lab specializes in developing bio-based materials derived from cellulose for use in electronics. They likely employ innovative processes to extract and refine cellulose from renewable sources such as plants or agricultural waste.
    • Uniqueness: Their uniqueness lies in their ability to harness the properties of cellulose to create sustainable materials suitable for electronic applications, such as flexible substrates or insulation.
    • End-User Segments: Cellulose Lab’s solutions may appeal to electronics manufacturers seeking environmentally friendly alternatives to traditional materials, as well as industries focusing on eco-friendly product design and sustainability.
  2. BioInspiration:
    • Technology Focus: BioInspiration is likely focused on biomimicry, drawing inspiration from nature to develop bio-based materials for electronics. They may look to natural structures and processes for insights into creating materials with desirable electronic properties.
    • Uniqueness: Their uniqueness lies in their approach of mimicking nature’s designs and functionalities to develop innovative materials tailored for electronic applications, potentially offering enhanced performance and sustainability.
    • End-User Segments: BioInspiration’s solutions could target a wide range of industries, including consumer electronics, automotive, aerospace, and medical devices, where lightweight, durable, and sustainable materials are in demand.
  3. Newlight Technologies:
    • Technology Focus: Newlight Technologies specializes in transforming greenhouse gas emissions into bio-based materials through a process called AirCarbon. Their focus is on creating sustainable alternatives to traditional plastics and other materials.
    • Uniqueness: Their uniqueness lies in their ability to convert carbon emissions into high-performance bio-based materials suitable for various applications, including electronics. This approach helps mitigate climate change while offering eco-friendly solutions.
    • End-User Segments: Newlight Technologies’ solutions may appeal to electronics manufacturers looking to reduce their carbon footprint and incorporate sustainable materials into their products, as well as consumers seeking environmentally friendly electronics.

Sample Research At Top-Tier Universities

  1. Linköping University (Sweden):
    • Technology Enhancements: Researchers at Linköping University are advancing the development of bio-based materials suitable for electronic applications by integrating organic and inorganic components. They are exploring methods to enhance the conductivity and stability of bio-based materials to make them compatible with electronic devices.
    • Uniqueness of Research: Linköping University’s research stands out for its focus on utilizing sustainable and renewable resources for electronic applications. They are investigating novel bio-based polymers, such as cellulose derivatives and biodegradable plastics, for their electrical properties and compatibility with electronic manufacturing processes.
    • End-use Applications: The bio-based materials developed at Linköping University have potential applications in flexible electronics, organic photovoltaics, and biodegradable electronic devices. For example, bio-based substrates and conductive inks can be used to fabricate flexible and eco-friendly electronic components for wearable sensors and smart packaging.
  2. Stanford University (USA):
    • Technology Enhancements: Stanford University researchers are pushing the boundaries of bio-based materials for electronics by exploring nanotechnology and bioengineering techniques. They are designing bio-compatible nanomaterials and nanostructures with unique electronic properties for applications in energy storage, sensing, and computing.
    • Uniqueness of Research: Stanford’s research is distinctive for its interdisciplinary approach, combining expertise in materials science, chemistry, and bioengineering to develop bio-based electronics. They are leveraging advances in nanomaterial synthesis and characterization to tailor the properties of bio-based materials for specific electronic applications.
    • End-use Applications: The bio-based electronic materials developed at Stanford University hold promise for next-generation electronic devices, such as biodegradable sensors, biofuel cells, and implantable medical devices. These materials offer opportunities for sustainable electronics manufacturing and reduce the environmental impact of electronic waste.
  3. Imperial College London:
    • Technology Enhancements: Researchers at Imperial College London are focusing on bio-inspired design principles to develop bio-based materials with enhanced electronic properties. They are studying natural materials, such as silk proteins and cellulose nanocrystals, as templates for engineering electronic functionalities into bio-based materials.
    • Uniqueness of Research: Imperial College’s research is unique for its emphasis on biomimicry and bio-inspired materials design for electronic applications. By mimicking the hierarchical structures and functional motifs found in nature, they aim to create bio-based materials with superior performance and sustainability.
    • End-use Applications: The bio-based electronic materials developed at Imperial College have applications in a wide range of fields, including healthcare, energy, and consumer electronics. For instance, bio-based sensors and actuators inspired by biological systems can be used for biomedical diagnostics, environmental monitoring, and human-machine interfaces.

commercial_img Commercial Implementation

While still in its relatively early stages, commercial applications of bio-based materials in electronics are emerging:

  • Conductive Inks and Pastes: Bio-based conductive inks and pastes are used in printed electronics, enabling the creation of flexible circuits, sensors, and other electronic components.
  • Bio-Based Substrates: Cellulose-based films and other bio-based substrates are being used as flexible and transparent materials in electronic displays and touchscreens.
  • Bio-Based Packaging for Electronics: Biodegradable and compostable packaging materials are being used to protect electronic devices during shipping and storage, reducing the environmental impact of packaging waste.