Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Stretchy electronics moves closer - PolyU’s wearable sensing technology

09.11.2012
Researchers from the Institute of Textiles and Clothing at PolyU have developed a new technology that allows electronics to drape around our body comfortably. The researchers have engineered a new fabric that can conduct electricity, paving the way for stretchable electronics.

Sensors and other electronics are usually made of rigid and stiff material such as metals and plastics. They cannot be stretched, twisted or thrown, and should be handled with care.


Smart Footwear installed with Fabric Sensors

But that is about to change. Researchers from the Institute of Textiles and Clothing at PolyU have developed a new technology that allows electronics to drape around our body comfortably. Defying our imagination, the researchers have engineered a new fabric that can conduct electricity, paving the way for stretchable electronics.

The pressure sensitive fabric is made of flexible polymers and nano-carbon materials. Through advanced fabrication process, conductive nano-carbon materials were laced onto polymer to create a thin layer that can transfer electricity. When stretched or pressed, the thickness of this layer changes, which leads to a change in the electric current and the resistance. The fabric will react to a pull or compression with an increase in resistance so that strain and pressure can be measured.

To transform this novel idea into reality, Prof. Xiaoming Tao and her team have to overcome a challenge: a loss of conductivity under a high degree of deformation. Employing novel textile engineering techniques, they have developed a highly conductive polymer that can withstand significant stretching. This material is also highly sensitive and reliable for touch sensing. Principal investigator Prof. Tao explained, “Our new fabric can be stretched like a rubber band and has high sensitivity to strain. We’ve also made another one that can withstand and respond to very high pressure up to 2000kPa. They are water-proof, washable and excellent in resistance to fatigue.”

In the future, pressure sensors can be bent and stretched. More importantly, the flexible material is soft, light and breathable, and therefore is well tolerated by human skins. As it will work better and longer on human body, it opens up new possibilities for health care and medical applications such as wearable health monitoring devices. For example, a stretchy fabric sensor can measure intensive body movements and then send information wirelessly to a computer. Such electronics can adapt to any bent and moving body parts for health monitoring or remote control.

This novel technology has been applied and presented as a pair of smart shoes for round-the-clock health watch without a single wire or electrode on a person. Fellow researcher Dr Aaron Wang illustrated, “The pressure-sensitive fabric is made into a touch sensor in the shape of a sole. When fitted into the shoes, the sensor can detect when an elderly falls over and then send alerts or track down a missing person with dementia when he is out and about.” The research team is anticipating a future where medical devices can integrate seamlessly into the human body to track a patient’s vital signs and transmit the signals to his/her doctor.

Dr Wang suggested more innovative possibilities in entertainment business, “Our stretchable sensors will be useful in fabric push buttons, game controllers and dance pads. Computer games will be more fun and edgy than ever.”

“Our ultimate goal is to develop a deformable system integrated with computer power, wireless technologies and environmental power sources, which I believe will have a profound impact on telemedicine, health care delivery and sports training,” said Prof. Tao.

This breakthrough was licensed to a start-up called AdvanPro Limited for further development and production. The University is keen in putting laboratory science into good use and in fact this company was set up by the researchers with the support from the Micro-fund program organized by the University’s Institute for Entrepreneurship . In pursuit of knowledge transfer and entrepreneurship, the Institute is dedicated to give professional services and coordination support to help the aspiring entrepreneurs transform PolyU’s innovations into applications which can make the world a better place.
Associated links
http://www.polyu.edu.hk/ife/corp/en/publications/tech_front.php?tfid=3141

Wilfred Lai | Research asia research news
Further information:
http://www.polyu.edu.hk/ife/corp/en/publications/tech_front.php?tfid=3141
http://www.researchsea.com

More articles from Materials Sciences:

nachricht New design improves performance of flexible wearable electronics
23.06.2017 | North Carolina State University

nachricht Plant inspiration could lead to flexible electronics
22.06.2017 | American Chemical Society

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Touch Displays WAY-AX and WAY-DX by WayCon

27.06.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Drones that drive

27.06.2017 | Information Technology

Ultra-compact phase modulators based on graphene plasmons

27.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>