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Graphene unlocks new potential for 'smart textiles'

Credit: Professor Craciun Lab

An international team of scientists, led by Professor Monica Craciun from the University of Exeter Engineering department, has pioneered a new technique to create fully electronic fibres that can be incorporated into the production of everyday clothing.

Currently, wearable electronics are achieved by essentially gluing devices to fabrics, which can mean they are too rigid and susceptible to malfunctioning.

The new research instead integrates the electronic devices into the fabric of the material, by coating electronic fibres with light-weight, durable components that will allow images to be shown directly on the fabric.

The research team believe that the discovery could transform the creation of wearable electronic devices for use in a range of every day applications, as well as health monitoring, such as heart rates and blood pressure, and medical diagnostics.

The team used existing polypropylene fibres - typically used in a host of commercial applications in the textile industry - to attach the new, graphene-based electronic fibres to create touch-sensor and light-emitting devices. The new technique means that the fabrics can incorporate truly wearable displays without the need for electrodes, wires of additional materials.

The international collaborative research includes experts from the Centre for Graphene Science at the University of Exeter, the Universities of Aveiro and Lisbon in Portugal, and CenTexBel in Belgium.

Author
Bethan Grylls

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