Washable graphene electronic circuits that can be printed onto clothing have been developed in Cambridge, embedding smart technology into the, er, fabric of society.
Working with colleagues in Italy and China, Cambridge University Engineering Department researchers have produced ‘textile electronic devices’ that can survive up to 20 cycles in the wash.
The smart textiles market is a multi-billion pound global industry, with opportunities for expansion in fashion, sports and fitness, as well as medical and military sectors.
This new research addresses key problems of wearbility and durability of inks. The circuits seamlessly integrate into clothing thanks to innovative use of low-boiling point inks that are comfortable next-to-skin, the researchers said.
The paper’s senior author, Dr Felice Torrisi of the Cambridge Graphene Centre, said: “Other inks for printed electronics normally require toxic solvents and are not suitable to be worn, whereas our inks are both cheap, safe and environmentally-friendly.”
The opportunities for this kind of technology could be applied to a range of personal and commercial uses. Sectors such as healthcare and wellbeing could utilise the electronic circuit data to measure movement and monitor health. Current uses of smart textiles include ‘smart gloves’ which monitor Parkinson’s disease patients and potential developments in the future could see wearable-displays or sensors printed onto fabrics.
“Thanks to nanotechnology, in the future our clothes could incorporate these textile-based electronics, such as displays or sensors and become interactive,” said Dr Torrisi.
Source: Cambridge News