Mark of the FEAST: Researchers invent edible graphene, paving the way for food that can be tracked through embedded RFID patterns

Tuesday, April 3, 2018
By Paul Martin

by: David Williams
Tuesday, April 03, 2018

Do you think you will ever be able to eat your electronics? It’s a strange concept, but it depicts a very real future situation wherein you’ll have to decide whether or not it’s okay to partake in edible electronics.

This is because of a new development created by a team of scientists from Rice University, wherein they managed to further enhance their laser-induced graphene (LIG) technology to produce foods that come with embedded electronic parts in them.

To be more specific, the scientists took their LIG techniques and effectively etched graphene patterns onto food items as well as other materials in order to put so-called conductive identification tags and sensors onto them. The etchings look like they might have been written on the items, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth, according to the researchers.

James Tour, one of the resident chemists at Rice, clarified the basis of their technology. “This is not ink,” he explained. “This is taking the material itself and converting it into graphene.”

Indeed, the method is based on his lab’s contention that it’s possible to turn anything with the necessary carbon content into graphene, with the use of proper equipment and techniques. Ever since the lab discovered a way to turn Girl Scout cookies into graphene, they’ve tried looking for other ways to apply their findings.

As of this time’s writing, the lab has managed to develop a method to quickly make graphene foam only through the use of a commercial laser that can transform the top layer of an inexpensive polymer film. It is said that the graphene foam is made up of microscopic, cross-linked flakes of graphene, which is basically a two-dimensional form of carbon. With LIG technology, it’s possible to “write” directly on target materials and follow certain specific patterns.

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