Experimental 'self-recycling' mobile phone, 1999.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Taking mobile phones apart by hand and sorting the pieces for recycling is expensive. This phone was designed by Joseph Chiodo, a researcher at Brunel University in Surrey, to 'recycle' itself. It is made from special metals and plastics which have 'memories' of their original shape. When heated up, they lose their current form and revert to the shape they remember: different parts are triggered to change shape at different temperatures. The phone then 'pops' apart, ready for recycling. Pieces can be picked out for reuse and the parts containing toxins can be separated.