Clothing with a brain: 'Smart fabrics' that monitor health

December 8, 2008
Researchers have developed a cost-effective procedure of making disease-detecting wearable fabrics, "smart fabrics." Above are microscopic images of the E-fibers. Credit: Credit: American Chemical Society

Researchers in United States and China are reporting progress toward a simple, low-cost method to make "smart fabrics," electronic textiles capable of detecting diseases, monitoring heart rates, and other vital signs.

A report on these straight-out-of-science-fiction-fibers, made of carbon nanotubes, is scheduled for the December 10 issue of ACS' Nano Letters.

In the new study, Nicholas A. Kotov, Chuanlai Xu, and colleagues point out that electronic textiles, or E-textiles, already are a reality. However, the current materials are too bulky, rigid, and complex for practical use. Fabric makers need simpler, more flexible materials to make E-fibers practical for future applications, they say.

The scientists describe development of cotton fibers coated with electrolytes and carbon nanotubes (CNT) — thin filaments 1/50,000 the width of a single human hair. The fibers are soft, flexible, and capable of transmitting electricity when woven into fabrics.

In laboratory tests, the researchers showed that the new E-fibers could light up a simple light-emitting diode when connected to a battery. When coated with certain antibodies, the fibers detected the presence of albumin, a key protein in blood — a function that could be used to detect bleeding in wounded soldiers. The fabrics could also help monitor diseases and vital signs, they say.

Article: "Smart Electronic Yarns and Wearable Fabrics for Human Biomonitoring made by Carbon Nanotube Coating with Polyelectrolytes",

Provided by American Chemical Society

Explore further: Study explains strength gap between graphene, carbon fiber

Related Stories

'Nano-kebab' fabric breaks down chemical warfare agents

October 3, 2016

Researchers have created a fabric material containing nanoscale fibers that are capable of degrading chemical warfare agents (CWAs). Uniform coatings of metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) were synthesized on top of the nanofibers, ...

Scientists put a new twist on artificial muscles

September 26, 2016

In recent years, researchers at The University of Texas at Dallas and colleagues at the University of Wollongong in Australia have put a high-tech twist on the ancient art of fiber spinning, using modern materials to create ...

Airbus wing plant is a model of robotic technology

September 21, 2016

Like a cartoon space alien with a dome-like skull, an Airbus Beluga transport plane arriving from Madrid drops from the sky above this village 200 miles northwest of London and taxis to a stop with its front end tucked inside ...

Recommended for you

Nano-decoy lures human influenza A virus to its doom

October 25, 2016

To infect its victims, influenza A heads for the lungs, where it latches onto sialic acid on the surface of cells. So researchers created the perfect decoy: A carefully constructed spherical nanoparticle coated in sialic ...

Nanofiber coating prevents infections of prosthetic joints

October 24, 2016

In a proof-of-concept study with mice, scientists at The Johns Hopkins University show that a novel coating they made with antibiotic-releasing nanofibers has the potential to better prevent at least some serious bacterial ...

Smashing metallic cubes toughens them up

October 20, 2016

Scientists at Rice University are smashing metallic micro-cubes to make them ultrastrong and tough by rearranging their nanostructures upon impact.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.