Campus News

Researchers develop smart fabric for wearable devices

UOW scientists have developed a strong and flexible yarn that conducts and stores electricity and could be used to create wearable medical devices and smart clothes.

Researchers from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Electromaterials Science (ACES) at UOW worked with an international team of engineers to develop a novel way to turn small fibres into powerful batteries with ultrafast charge and discharge rates.

The result, published in the journal Nature Communications, is a flexible, wearable supercapacitor yarn – about the width of a human hair – that is made by weaving two nano materials together to form a super-strong carbon nanotube.

Hundreds of layers of nanotubes, which are coated with small molecules of plastic, are woven together with a thin metal wire. This is then spun into a yarn in a similar way to how you would spin wool into thread, ACES Executive Research Director and Australian Research Council laureate fellow, Professor Gordon Wallace, said.

"The highly functional fibres can be integrated into complex 2D and 3D structures using [our] integrated knitting braiding machines. These facilities were recently commissioned as part of an Australian National Fabrication Facility Materials Node expansion”, Professor Wallace said.

The yarn’s flexibility means it can be knitted or sewn into clothing to power wearable electronics, which could be used to monitor movement during training or physiotherapy or to power high-tech fashion accessories.

The mechanical properties of the yarn mean it can add strength to composites often used in automotive components and could be especially useful in electric vehicles.

Professor Wallace said the outcomes from this research were a direct result of the ability to combine expertise and facilities from across the globe to tackle a critical area of research – developments of new materials for energy storage.

“This work highlights the need to integrate advances in materials science with innovative fabrication protocols to deliver effective solution for energy storage,” Professor Wallace said.

Last reviewed: 11 June, 2013

Share

UOW IN THE NEWS

Tech duo wins record...
Financial Review | 17 April
Human microchipping...
The Age | 17 April
Vein-scanning technology...
Sydney Morning Herald | 16 April
UOW lashes Greens
Illawarra Mercury | 15 April
The CWA and feminism today
The Conversation | 15 April
Pension age rise: job hunt...
Illawarra Mercury | 15 April
Scholarships for orphans...
Gulf News | 14 April
Beware stings in tail...
Sydney Morning Herald | 14 April
Why Wollongong? ...

Illawarra Mercury | 12 April
Single-decker v double...

ABC Fact Check | 11 April
Who is Robin Seggelmann...

The Age | 11 April
New UOW iAccelerate project...

ABC News | 11 April
Construction begins on entre...
Smart Startup | 11 April
Fat free and 100% natural...
The Conversation | 11 April
UOW's iAccelerate to grow...
Illawarra Mercury | 11 April
Ex-teacher's phone app...
Illawarra Mercury | 11 April

More media coverage