ELFO project

Electronic Food

The foundations of a new enabling technology for edible electronic systems.


Electronic Food (ELFO) seems a concept from the future, food for humanoids or robots; but it’s not. The increasing of wasted and counterfeit food, pathology related to poor nutrition, requires the development of new green technology to track the food supply chain and monitor the wellness of our gastrointestinal tract. ELFO will provide the foundations of new enabling technology for edible electronic systems. The platform will find application in electronic tags for food monitoring, serving public health, and providing at the same time a very powerful tool against counterfeiting and wasting. At the same time, the implementation of a smart edible pill will supply gastrointestinal disease prevention, diagnosis, and therapy. A home healthcare device with the goal to anticipate needs and ensure compliance. Besides, one of the challenges of ELFO is to encourage the public acceptance of such food technology, which is useful for human health and for the environment.


  • Sensors for in-body operation
  • Sensors for out-of-body operation

Power Supplies

  • Batteries
  • Super capacitors
  • Fuel Cells
  • Energy Harvesting Technologies

Communication strategies

  • Radio Frequericy Communication
  • Intra Body Communication
  • Acoustic and Ultrasounds Communication
  • Optical strategies

Systems Approbation

  • In vitro tests

Materials approval

  • In vitro tests


  • Insulators
  • Conductors
  • Semiconductors

Micro- and opto- electronic components

  • Field-effect transistors
  • Electrolyte-Gated transistors
  • Edible electronic circuits
  • Light-emission and chromism

Biomedical / Pharmaceutical application

Edible Electronics

Food Industry application


From Ingestible to Edible Electronics

Edible electronics can be considered an evolution of the most traditional concept of ingestible electronics where the proposed devices, besides being suitable for swallowing, are fully digestible within the body, and safely releasable into the environment without need of recollection. Going past the traditional model of electronic devices, ELFO envisions a technology which is not only environmentally friendly, cost-effective, energy-efficient, but also safe for ingestion, and degradable within the body after performing its function by either being digested or even metabolized.
ELFO Project Coordinator

Mario Caironi

Studied at “Politecnico di Milano” (Milan, Italy) where he obtained his Laurea degree in Electrical Engineering in 2003 and a Ph.D. in Information Technology with honours in 2007. In March 2007 he joined the group of Prof. Henning Sirringhaus at the Cavendish Laboratory (Cambridge, UK) as a post-doctoral research associate. In April 2010 he has been appointed as a Team Leader at the Center for Nano Science and Technology@PoliMi of the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (Milan, Italy), in 2014 entered the tenure track at the same institution and obtained a tenured researcher position in 2019. Co-author of more than 120 scientific papers in international journals and books. He is a 2014 starting ERC grantee and a 2019 consolidator grantee.

Alessandro Luzio

Received Master degree cum laude (2007) and PhD (2010) in Chemical Engineering and Material Science at Palermo University. As a PhD student, he was involved in Plast_ICs project (main partner STMicroelectronics of Catania), aimed at the realization of Integrated Circuits on plastic substrates, and mainly developed in the laboratories of Consorzio Catania Ricerche. He was also involved in a 7 months period of collaborative research in the Chemistry Department of the Northwestern University, tutored by Professor T. J. Marks and Professor A. Facchetti. He joined the Centre of Nanoscience and Technology of the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT) in 2011 as a junior PostDoc.

Post Doc

Ivan Ilić

Ivan Ilić did his bachelor degree in chemistry at the University of Zagreb (2015), followed by a master in chemistry at the Free University of Berlin (2017). He did his PhD at Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces in the department of Prof. Markus Antonietti researching sustianable cathodes for lihtium-ion batteries derived from biowaste. Upon finishing his studies in 2020 he continued working in the same department developing anodes for sodium-ion batteries based on hard carbon materials in the project led by Prof. Martin Oschatz. In 2021 he joined IIT as a part of ELFO project focusing on the development of edible batteries.

PhD student

Alina Sharova

Alina Sharova was born in Moscow (Russia) in 1994. She received B.S. degree in Nuclear Physics, followed by a M.S. degree in Laser physics and Biophotonics with honours at National Research Nuclear University MEPhI in collaboration with the General Physics Institute, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, in 2016 and 2018, respectively. She is currently a PhD candidate at the Politecnico di Milano in collaboration with the Center for Nano Science and Technology, Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia, Milan. Her current research focuses on edible and biodegradable electronics for the healthcare application.
PhD student

Fabrizio Ferrarese

Fabrizio Mario Ferrarese was born in Latina (Italy) in 1992. He received B.S. degree in Materials Science at University of Tor Vergata (Rome), followed by a M.S. degree in Materials Science at University of Padua in collaboration with ENEA (Agenzia nazionale per le nuove tecnologie, l'energia e lo sviluppo economico sostenibile) where he did a year of Internship for the thesis project. He is currently a PhD candidate at the Politecnico di Milano in collaboration with the Center for Nano Science and Technology, Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia, Milan, working on the ELFO project investigating the electrical and toxicological properties of edible electronic devices.

Former colleagues

Pietro Cataldi

Leonardo Lamanna


First ELFO's paper

30/11/2020 | Progress report

Edible Electronics: The Vision and the Challenge

Mario Caironi Interview

05/01/2021 | Italian Video interview

Mario Caironi has been interviewed by the main Italian News broadcasting, RAI 1

Sweet Electronics

24/08/2021 | Research Article

Sweet Electronics: Honey-Gated Complementary Organic Transistors and Circuits Operating in Air

News and Events


ELFO - Electronic Food

RT @CaironiPME: NEW POSITION! There is a new Tenure Track opening at IIT on new sustainable nanostructures for CO2 valorization and/or for…

Read more

ELFO - Electronic Food

"It is rather inconvenient to swallow a physician". We could not agree more! twitter.com/NikoMcCarty/st…

Read more

ELFO - Electronic Food

It seems that soon edible electronics might fly! twitter.com/AutomatonBlog/…

Read more


This project has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (Grant agreement No. 864299). Overall budget € 1 980 000. ERC Project Info.