SCI­EN­TISTS MAKE FAB­RIC THAT CAN STORE CHARGE

Re­searchers cre­ate method that uses mi­cro-su­per­ca­pac­i­tor and com­bines vapour-coated con­duc­tive threads with poly­mer film

Sunday Express - - XPLORE -

WASH­ING­TON: Sci­en­tists have de­vel­oped a method that can al­low fab­rics to store charge, paving the way for self-pow­ered smart gar­ments that can mon­i­tor health in real time.

A ma­jor fac­tor hold­ing back devel­op­ment of wear­able biosen­sors for health mon­i­tor­ing is the lack of a light­weight, long-last­ing power sup­ply.

Sci­en­tists at the Uni­ver­sity of Mas­sachusetts Amherst have de­vel­oped a method for mak­ing a charge-stor­ing sys­tem that is eas­ily in­te­grated into cloth­ing for “em­broi­der­ing a charge-stor­ing pat­tern onto any gar­ment.”

“Bat­ter­ies or other kinds of charge stor­age are still the lim­it­ing com­po­nents for most por­ta­ble, wear­able, in­gestible or flex­i­ble tech­nolo­gies. The de­vices tend to be some com­bi­na­tion of too large, too heavy and not flex­i­ble,” said Trisha L An­drew, who led the study pub­lished in ACS Ap­plied Ma­te­ri­als & In­ter­faces.

The method uses a mi­cro-su­per­ca­pac­i­tor and com­bines vapour-coated con­duc­tive threads with a poly­mer film, plus a spe- cial sewing tech­nique to cre­ate a flex­i­ble mesh of aligned elec­trodes on a tex­tile back­ing.

The re­sult­ing solid-state de­vice has a high abil­ity to store charge for its size, and other char­ac­ter­is­tics that al­low it to power wear­able biosen­sors. While the re­searchers have re­mark­ably minia­turised many dif­fer­ent elec­tronic cir­cuit com­po­nents, un­til now the same could not be said for charge-stor­ing de­vices.

“We show that we can lit­er­ally em­broi­der a charge-stor­ing pat­tern onto any gar­ment us­ing the vapour-coated threads that our lab makes. This opens the door for sim­ply sewing cir­cuits on self­pow­ered smart gar­ments,” said An­drew. Re­searchers point out that su­per­ca­pac­i­tors are ideal can­di­dates for wear­able charge stor­age cir­cuits be­cause they have in­her­ently higher power den­si­ties com­pared to bat­ter­ies.

How­ever, “in­cor­po­rat­ing elec­tro­chem­i­cally ac­tive ma­te­ri­als with high elec­tri­cal con­duc­tiv­i­ties and rapid ion trans­port into tex­tiles is chal­leng­ing,” the re­searchers point out.

UNI­VER­SITY OF MAS­SACHUSETTS AMHERST

This charge-stor­ing sys­tem can be eas­ily in­te­grated into cloth­ing for em­broi­der­ing a charge-stor­ing pat­tern onto any gar­ment |

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