New Conductive Ink Allows for Wearable Technology
With smart watches and fit bracelets, wearable technology is a growing trend. While watches seem like an obvious choice for new technology, sportswear may be the next tech phenomenon. Researchers from the University of Tokyo have developed a new conductive ink that would allow electronics to be printed onto stretchable fabrics, according to Digital Trends.
According to a press release from the University of Tokyo, a research group from the university's Graduate School of Engineering developed an elastic conducting ink that is printed and patterned in one single printing step. The ink, made up of silver flakes, organic solvent, fluorine rubber and fluorine surfactant, shows high conductivity even when stretched to more than three times its original length. This is the highest value reported for stretching conductors that can go beyond two and a half times their original size.
The group used this new ink to create a wrist-band muscle activity sensor. By printing the elastic conductor on sportswear material and combining it with a transistor amplifier circuit, the wristband measured muscle activity.
"Our team aims to develop comfortable wearable devices," said Professor Takao Someya, leader of the research group, in the statement. "The biggest challenge was obtaining high conductivity and stretchability with a simple one-step printing process. We were able to achieve this by use of a surfactant that allowed the silver flakes to self-assemble at the surface of the printed pattern, ensuring conductivity."
Digital Trends added that this new technology could open the door for shirts, pants and other apparel that monitors vital signs and fitness milestones.