A soldier at the battle field, a fire fighter or police officer, who is wounded and unconscious, cannot request help to a command post. A patient whose health is very critical cannot inform his condition to the doctors. But the clothes they are wearing can solve this problem by detecting blood.
Nanotechnology offers viable solutions for various industrial needs. Advancements in this field have the possibilities for a gamut of new applications in textiles. Researchers from the University of Michigan have come up with a new process of manufacturing a smart yarn with the ability to conduct electricity. These yarns can be effectively woven into soft fabrics and tailored into apparels. These garments will be capable to detect blood, and monitor health.
Nanotube infused cotton yarns:
Presently, smart fabrics are manufactured from metallic or optical fibres. They wear away quickly, and are brittle and uncomfortable. Laundry of such textiles also proves to be troublesome. Nano technology has come up with an innovative way of combining the two fibres; one natural and the other nano technology. Cotton yarn with a thickness of 1.5 millimeters is dipped a few times in a solution of a special sticky polymer in ethanol and dried. This enables the yarn to conduct power from a battery to illuminate light emitting diode device.
The antibody anti-albumin is added to the carbon nanotube solution. Anti-albumin reacts with albumin, a protein that is found in blood. When the anti-albumin infused yarns were exposed to albumin, the conductivity is increased considerably. This method is more sensitive, simple and durable. By repeating the process a few times, normal cotton becomes a conductive material due to the carbon nano tubes which are conductive in nature. After the process is complete, the cotton yarn still retains its soft and supple features. This yarn is much better comparatively over the current designs available for electrically conducting fabrics. The only change in the yarn is that it turns into black color due to the presence of carbon.
Fabrics made from these smart yarns have potential application in professions that involve high risk. A police officer in danger, a firefighter who is hurt while at work, a wounded soldier at the warfront may not be in a position to send a message requesting for help. But the apparels infused with smart yarns would be able to do it. The clothes can be designed accordingly; to store energy, which will provide power to operate small electronic devices. A mobile phone or any other form of communication device attached with the clothing can transmit the information from the garment to a command post. It can also be used in garments and used for monitoring health. It also foresees lucrative applications as performance apparel.
The concept of electrically sensitive clothing made from nanotube infused cotton yarn can be adapted in various fields based on their exposure to potential risks. The burgeoning interest in nano technology opens a floodgate of opportunities for developing new and innovative products in the textile sector.
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