Recycled LCDs have applications in biomedicine

Recycled LCD TVs could help fight bacterial infections like E coli
Recycled LCD TVs could help fight bacterial infections like E coli

The screens of LCD televisions consist of two sheets of plastic filled with a chemical compound called polyvinyl-alcohol (PVA). PVA – which is also used in wood glues – is biocompatible and has potential uses in biomedicine as tissue scaffolds that help the body regenerate and in pills and dressings designed to deliver drugs to certain parts of the body.

Researchers had already discovered a method to recover PVA from television screens, but found that adding silver nanoparticles gives the compound anti-microbial properties. The PVA/silver compound can destroy both Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria like E. coli and some strains ofStaphylococcus aureus.

“In televisions the PVA is a brick-like structure, but under aqueous conditions we converted it to a porous sponge-like material,” principal investigator Dr Avtar Matharu from the University of York told Laboratory News, “This simple reaction under these conditions enabled us to add silver nanoparticles to the PVA, giving it antibacterial properties.”

The team created films that when tested against E. coli inhibited bacterial growth. The research team will now test the PVA-based substance against commercially available compounds to determine relative effectiveness.

“The influence of LCDs on modern society is dramatic – it is estimated that 2.5 billion LCDs are approaching the end of their life and they are the fasting growing waste in the European Union,” said Dr Andrew Hunt from the York Green Chemistry Centre of Excellence.

This research is part of a wider study funded by the Technology Strategy Board to examine the problems posed by LCD waste.

Matharu said sometimes you need to think outside the box: “LCD TVs are just considered waste – you never think to make the link possible medical applications.”


Leave a Reply