Scientists design fabrics that can store charge
A major factor holding back development of wearable biosensors for health monitoring is the lack of a lightweight, longlasting power supply. Now, scientists at the University of Massachusetts Amherst in the US have developed a method for making a charge-storing system that is easily integrated into clothing.
“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 special sewing technique to create a flexible mesh of aligned electrodes on a textile backing.
The resulting solidstate device has a high ability to store charge for its size, and has other characteristics that allow it to power wearable biosensors.
While 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 on to any garment using the vapour-coated threads that our lab makes,” said Andrew.
Researchers are working on incorporating the new embroidered chargestorage arrays with e-textile sensors and low-power microprocessors to build smart garments that can monitor a person’s gait and joint movements throughout a normal day.