Printed graphene circuits survive 20 wash cycles

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Researchers at the University of Cambridge have incorporated washable, stretchable and breathable electronic circuits into fabric, opening up new possibilities for smart textiles and wearable electronics. The circuits were made with cheap, safe and environmentally friendly inks, and printed using conventional inkjet printing techniques.

The researchers, working with teams in Italy and China, demonstrated that graphene can be printed directly onto fabric. The circuits created as said to be comfortable to wear and able to survive up to 20 cycles in a typical washing machine.

Based on earlier work on the formulation of graphene inks for printed electronics, the team designed low-boiling point inks, which were directly printed onto polyester fabric. Additionally, the researchers found that modifying the roughness of the fabric improved the performance of the printed devices.

“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, and can be combined to create electronic circuits by simply printing different 2D materials on the fabric,” said Dr Felice Torrisi of the Cambridge Graphene Centre.

The work is said to open opportunities for 2D material inks, with applications ranging from personal health and well-being technology, to wearable energy harvesting and wearable computing devices.