Scientists Print Electronic Circuits Directly Into Apparel
Scientists at the University of Cambridge have successfully implemented washable, stretchable and breathable electronic circuits into clothing, pushing the development and possibilities of technological athletic apparel.
The team of researchers printed graphene, a two-dimensional form of carbon also used in development of lithium-ion batteries, directly into the fabric, creating electronic circuits that can survive 20 cycles in washing machines, according to the University of Cambridge.
The team focused on using affordable, safe inks as well as creating a product that was comfortable to wear for the user.
"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 two-dimensional materials on the fabric," Dr. Felice Torrisi of the University of Cambridge, said. "Turning textile fibres into functional electronic components can open to an entirely new set of applications from healthcare and wellbeing to the Internet of Things. Thanks to nanotechnology, in the future, our clothes could incorporate these textile-based electronics, such as displays or sensors, and become interactive."
The study's co-author, Prof. Roman Sordan of Politecnico di Milano, said that the team's work is the first time digital components are used to print entire integrated circuits in the textiles themselves.
"Although we demonstrated very simple integrated circuits, our process is scalable, and there are no fundamental obstacles to the technological development of wearable electronic devices both in terms of their complexity and performance," he said.
Through the development of more comfortable, complex apparel that features technology, companies can push the boundaries of apparel. Especially in the sports world, technology and performance apparel is always evolving. This certainly seems like a big step.