A soldier at the battlefield, a fire fighter or police officer, who is wounded and unconscious, cannotrequest help to a command post. A patient whose health is very critical cannotinform his condition to the doctors. But the clothes they are wearing can solvethis problem by detecting blood.
Nanotechnology offers viablesolutions for various industrial needs. Advancements in this field have thepossibilities for a gamut of new applications in textiles. Researchers from the University of Michigan have come up with a new process of manufacturing asmart yarn with the ability to conduct electricity. These yarns can beeffectively woven into soft fabrics and tailored into apparels. These garmentswill be capable to detect blood, and monitor health.
Nanotube infused cotton yarns:
Presently, smart fabrics aremanufactured from metallic or optical fibres. They wear away quickly, and arebrittle and uncomfortable. Laundry of such textiles also proves to betroublesome. Nano technology has come up with an innovative way of combiningthe two fibres; one natural and the other nano technology. Cotton yarn with athickness of 1.5 millimeters is dipped a few times in a solution of a specialsticky polymer in ethanol and dried. This enables the yarn to conduct powerfrom a battery to illuminate light emitting diode device.
The antibody anti-albumin isadded to the carbon nanotube solution. Anti-albumin reacts with albumin, aprotein that is found in blood. When the anti-albumin infused yarns wereexposed to albumin, the conductivity is increased considerably. This method ismore sensitive, simple and durable. By repeating the process a few times,normal cotton becomes a conductive material due to the carbon nano tubes whichare conductive in nature. After the process is complete, the cotton yarn stillretains its soft and supple features. This yarn is much better comparativelyover the current designs available for electrically conducting fabrics. Theonly change in the yarn is that it turns into black color due to the presenceof carbon.
Fabrics made from these smartyarns have potential application in professions that involve high risk. Apolice officer in danger, a firefighter who is hurt while at work, a woundedsoldier at the warfront may not be in a position to send a message requestingfor help. But the apparels infused with smart yarns would be able to do it. Theclothes can be designed accordingly; to store energy, which will provide powerto operate small electronic devices. A mobile phone or any other form ofcommunication device attached with the clothing can transmit the informationfrom the garment to a command post. It can also be used in garments and usedfor monitoring health. It also foresees lucrative applications as performanceapparel.
The concept of electricallysensitive clothing made from nanotube infused cotton yarn can be adapted invarious fields based on their exposure to potential risks. The burgeoninginterest in nano technology opens a floodgate of opportunities for developingnew and innovative products in the textile sector.
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