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Swedish University student develops conductive fibres

20 Jun '22
2 min read
Pic: University of Borås
Pic: University of Borås

Electronically conductive fibres are already in use in smart textiles, but in a recently published research ionically conductive fibres have proven to be of increasing interest. The ionofibres achieve higher flexibility, durability and match the type of conduction body uses. In future, they may be used for items like textile batteries, displays and muscles.

The research project is carried out by the doctoral student Claude Huniade at the University of Borås and is a track within a larger project, Weafing, whose goal is to develop novel, unprecedented garments for haptic stimulation comprising flexible and wearable textile actuators and sensors. In Huniade’s project the goal is to produce conductive yarns without conductive metals.

“My research is about producing electrically conductive textile fibres, and ultimately yarns, by coating non-metals sustainably on commercial yarns. The biggest challenge is in the balance between keeping the textile properties and adding the conductive feature,” said Huniade.

Currenty, the uniqueness of the research leans towards the strategies employed when coating. These strategies expand to the processes and the materials used. One of the tracks the researcher investigates is about a new kind of material as textile coating, ionic liquids in combination with commercial textile fibres. Just like salt water, they conduct electricity but without water. Ionic liquid is a more stable electrolyte than salt water as nothing evaporates.

“The processable aspect is an important requirement since textile manufacturing can be harsh on textile fibres, especially when upscaling their use. The fibres can also be manufactured into woven or knitted without damaging them mechanically while retaining their conductivity. Surprisingly, they were even smoother to process into fabrics than the commercial yarns they are made from,” explained Huniade.

Ionofibres could be used as sensors since ionic liquids are sensitive to their environment. For example, humidity change can be sensed by the ionofibers, but also any stretch or pressure they are subjected to.

“Ionofibres could truly shine when they are combined with other materials or devices that require electrolytes. Ionofibres enable certain phenomena currently limited to happen in liquids to be feasible in air in a lightweight fashion. The applications are multiple and unique, for example for textile batteries, textile displays or textile muscles,” added Huniade.

Fibre2Fashion News Desk (RR)

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