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Wash-and-wear electronic textiles

Industry News | December 1, 2010 | By:

Wearable textiles with electronic functionality may be closer to commercial production, according to Kunigunde Cherenack, a researcher at ETH Zürich, a Swiss university specializing in technology and natural sciences. Fabric becomes electronic fabric in two ways—e-fiber components are stuck on or woven in—and neither method stands up to the friction, bending, stretching and washing of regular use. Cherenack and her team cut .02-.08 inch fibers out of Kapton E, a flexible, chemically resistant and low thermal expansion plastic, and then built circuits (LED, sensor or transistor) on each fiber. Each strip was encapsulated in silicon to protect against friction and encapsulated again in Kapton or polyethylene to push the electronic components to the center of the fiber. These fibers could be inserted in a weaving machine, and the resulting e-fabric could be washed in hot water and detergent for an hour. The research was published in Advanced Materials on October 5, 2010, and can be found at the Wiley Online Library.

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