Campus News
Published: 7 June, 2013

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.

Published: 7 June, 2013

Contact us

+61 2 4221 4227 | media@uow.edu.au 

Share

UOW IN THE NEWS

Back to the Future as Wollongong...
ABC Illawarra | 30 Sept
HSC exam guide: how to help your...
The Conversation | 30 Sept
Toddler tech envy: Two-year-olds n...
Sunday Telegraph | 28 Sept 
Do the proposed anti-terror laws i...
2SER | 25 Sept
Five ways to relax
Body + Soul | 25 Sept
Positives in negative results: when ...
The Conversation | 25 Sept
Finding Nemo's personality
Australian Geographic | 23 Sept
‘Medieval’ makes a comeback in m...
The Conversation | 22 Sept
Back to school means moving out ...
Australian Financial Review | 22 Sept
Born In The Wild
SBS TV | 20 Sept
To restore federalism, strengthen...
The Conversation | 18 Sept
Australian women desert technol...
Sydney Morning Herald | 18 Sept
Explainer: why the James Hardie...
The Conversation | 16 Sept
Well-connected Indigenous kids ...
The Conversation | 16 Sept
James Hardie says its asbestos ...
ABC The World Today | 15 Sept
Could private school become affor...
Kidspot | 15 Sept
More media coverage