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New Means of Creating E-Textiles Developed


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So many items around us are becoming connected now, and eventually even our clothes will contain electronics. Creating e-textiles has not proven to be easy though, as textiles must be flexible while electronic components are typically rigid and fragile. Several advances have been made over recent years though, and now researchers at Ohio State University have successfully found a new means of embroidering circuits into clothes.

Previously the Ohio State researchers worked with a silver-coated polymer thread that measured about 0.5 mm in diameter, with each thread consisting of 600 smaller filaments. What the researchers have done recently though is switch to a new thread just 0.1 mm in diameter and made of just seven filaments. This new thread has a copper core that is enameled with pure silver, but is still able to be embroidered like a traditional thread. The researchers have already demonstrated this by feeding it into a sewing machine that then embroidered different shapes into textiles, and these shapes were functional circuits and antennas. In fact, a broadband antenna they made, which is able to work over a broad spectrum of frequencies like our mobile devices, showed off near-perfect efficiency from 1 to 5 GHz.

Potentially this antenna design could be allow our clothes to boost the reception of smartphones and tablets. The wire used costs about three cents a foot, and just one antenna takes about ten feet, so that is thirty cents, which is 24 times cheaper than similar antennas the researchers made in 2014. It is also cheaper because the technique has been refined so that only one embroidered layer is needed, saving on time and material.

Source: Ohio State University



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