Now, a team of scientists at the University of Plymouth is attempting to demystify the ingredient list, in the hopes of raising awareness of the environmental and human impact of our devices. They’re doing so in the most brute-force way possible: grinding up phones and measuring the elements inside.
As a preliminary demonstration of their work, the just-released video below details the team’s chemical analysis of an iPhone 4S. Arjan Dijkstra, a lecturer in igneous petrology and one of the lead scientists behind the project, told Earther that his team initially detected at least 39 elements in the phone. They would have detected more, he said, but “just wanted to focus on the most abundant ones,” for the purposes of the demonstration. (Other experts previously told me that an iPhone contains about 75 elements. Apple didn’t comment at the time.)
Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, TinyGO, or even use the Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.