When you think of circuit boards, you traditionally think of those firm green slabs, made up of etched copper laminated to a piece of glass with various chips and components soldered on.
A project called Cirquids from designer Dorothee Clasen has a new spin on circuitry, using paper, wax, and the electrically conductive properties of salt water to create temporary circuit boards from nothing more then simple ingredients you probably already have around your house.
As seen in the video, the Cirquids function by printing or drawing water-resistant wax onto a sheet of paper (heated, to ensure that the wax permeates the paper fibers). Water is then dripped inside the outline of wax, where it’s absorbed by the paper and able to conduct the electricity and complete a circuit.
Clasen points out that there are multiple practical benefits to Cirquids, including the low cost and barrier of entry, especially compared with custom etching on a copper board. Even more interesting is the ability to create three-dimensional circuit boards in different shapes, which is difficult to do with traditional electronics, or allowing for triggering of circuits by squeezing together the wetted paper.
For now, the Cirquids remain an interesting research paper, but the simple, elegant, and cheap nature of the circuitry makes it likely that further research could result in more widespread use of them in the future.