SCIENTISTS MAKE FABRIC THAT CAN STORE CHARGE
Researchers create method that uses micro-supercapacitor and combines vapour-coated conductive threads with polymer film
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.
This charge-storing system can be easily integrated into clothing for embroidering a charge-storing pattern onto any garment |