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How do you make a technology sustainable that does not even exist yet? Well, by bringing together an interdisciplinary team of pioneering European experts right at the start and paying attention to sustainability right from the development phase.

2021 - 2024
Stefano Cucurachi
FET-OPEN programme of the European Commission FET-OPEN programme of the European Commission

Short abstract

PROGENY aims for the first time to achieve a radical, fundamental and sustainable breakthrough in device and sensor innovation by exploiting unique properties of soap films that enable the design and easy fabrication of proto-opto-electro-mechanical systems (POEMS). The unique set-up allows for sustainability by design during the first step towards these devices.

Project description

Electronic devices surround us every day, influencing the global economy and even shaping human behaviour. The production of those materials has a great impact on natural resources and also creates massive electronic waste. This indispensable but also unsustainable industry calls for immediate and also sustainable innovations – both in materials and device design.

PROGENY offers a potential solution by going the first step towards bionic systems based on electron-proton hybrid transistors. The POEMS developed in this project enable the exploration of new paradigms, such as a new class of future devices – exploiting the potential interactive transport within the opto-electronic and protonic channels as well as the mechanical properties of the electronic soap film.
Basically, POEMS can have acoustic, optical and electronic properties and can be used in bioelectronic medicine, sensing, prosthetics and augmented biological perceptions. Electron-proton hybrid transistors can, for example, host living cells and form foundational precursors to bionic devices.
Directly in the development process of the first devices, prospective (ex-ante) life cycle assessment (LCA) can rule out early regrettable choices and steer the technology to more sustainable pathways. In an environmentally responsible research effort all newly synthesised soap-film related materials will be tested for their ecotoxicological impact.

Figure 1. PROGENY sustainability profile. By combining existing and new methods to assess sustainability, feasibility and future applicability, a green business plan for new technologies can be outlined within the project.

Researchers at the CML have been successfully working on methods for quantitative sustainability assessment for years. However, the early TRL (technology readiness level) of the PROGENY innovations requires the development of new methods building on the existing ones for ex-ante LCA and LCC (life cycle costing) as well as the extension of software tools to meet the requirements of the project (see Figure 1). Combined with future scenarios developed within the research consortium, a green business plan will be outlined at the end.

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