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 InLight study: insights into chemical processes using light
05.12.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Lasertechnik ILT

nachricht Physics, photosynthesis and solar cells
01.12.2016 | University of California - Riverside

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

Im Focus: Molecules change shape when wet

Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water

In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Speed data for the brain’s navigation system

06.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

What happens in the cell nucleus after fertilization

06.12.2016 | Life Sciences

IHP presents the fastest silicon-based transistor in the world

05.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>