Given how quickly technology advances and becomes outdated, there’s a good reason to develop electronics from materials that will break down and biodegrade when discarded, instead of filling up landfills for centuries. So researchers in Finland found a way to make functional fiber optics from wood-based fibers, that, when disposed of, will break down all on its own.
Fiber optic cables are quite possibly the unsung heroes of the modern digital world. Unlike wires made of metal that carry electrical signals, the cables contain long thin threads of either glass or plastic that transmit pulses of light for miles, connecting data centers, cities, and even continents. Instead of flowing electrons, pulses of light travel down fiber optic cables using a process called total internal reflection where photons bounce off the inner walls of the transparent fibers and remain contained within during their journey from one end to the other.