Transistors are made from natural cotton fibers

Oct 27, 2011 By Farhan Nuruzzaman
This organic electrochemical transistor was made with cotton fibers. The gate, drain and source in the device are made from cotton threads with conductive or semiconductive behavior induced by using nanoparticle-based coatings.

(PhysOrg.com) -- Smarter, more functional clothing incorporating electronics may be possible in the near future, according to a study co-authored by Cornell fiber scientist Juan Hinestroza.

Hinestroza, associate professor of fiber science, was part of an international team that developed transistors using natural cotton fibers.

"Creating transistors from cotton fibers brings a new perspective to the seamless integration of electronics and textiles, enabling the creation of wearable electronic devices," Hinestroza said.

The innovation represents a significant step forward because it lays the groundwork for creating even more complex devices, such as cotton-based circuits, Hinestroza said. This would allow fabrics to sense body temperature, automatically heat up or cool down, or track or blood pressure in high-risk patients, as well as to monitor physical effort of high-performance athletes.

"Perhaps one day we can even build computers out of cotton fibers in a similar way as khipus -- a recording device based on knots and used by the Inca empire in Peru," Hinestroza added.

The research is published online Sept. 13 in . It describes a new technique in which conformal coatings -- which are those that follow cotton's irregular topography -- of along with semiconductive and were used to tailor the electronic behavior of natural cotton fibers.

Cotton was chosen as a substrate because of its mechanical and inherent comfort properties, relative cheapness and widespread use in fabric and clothing. Cotton fibers are lightweight and sustainable.

In the study, the first step was aimed at creating a conformal layer of nanoparticles over the rough topography of cotton. The next layers were either conductive or semiconductive coatings; the final step was to build the devices. "The layers were so thin that the flexibility of the cotton fibers was preserved," Hinestroza said.

Two kinds of active transistors, organic electrochemical transistors and organic field effect , were also demonstrated. Both kinds are widely used in the electronics industry as components of integrated circuits, which control the functions of such common devices as phones, televisions and game consoles.

The study represented an interdisciplinary, collaborative effort between fiber scientists from Cornell, physicists from the University of Bologna and electrical engineers from the University of Cagliari, both in Italy, and materials scientists from the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Mines de Saint-Étienne in France.

Hinestroza's lab contributed expertise in fibers and fiber functionality, and the other researchers led with their expertise in physics, electrical engineering and organic electronics.

The first author of the paper, Giorgio Mattana of the University of Cagliari, was at Cornell as an international visiting student for two semesters in 2009-10 working in Hinestroza's and another lab on campus. He also used the facilities of the Cornell Nanofabrication Facility and Cornell Center for Materials Research.

Explore further: The latest fashion: Graphene edges can be tailor-made

Related Stories

Cotton's potential for padding nonwovens

Sep 09, 2011

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists have conducted studies to investigate the use of virgin cotton in nonwoven materials and products. The work was led by cotton technologist Paul Sawhney and his colleagues at ...

Student creates clothes that trap harmful gases

Apr 13, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- A new Cornell cloth that can selectively trap noxious gases and odors has been fashioned by a senior into a mask and hooded shirts inspired by the military.

Recommended for you

The latest fashion: Graphene edges can be tailor-made

Jan 23, 2015

Theoretical physicists at Rice University are living on the edge as they study the astounding properties of graphene. In a new study, they figure out how researchers can fracture graphene nanoribbons to get ...

Nanotechnology changes behavior of materials

Jan 23, 2015

One of the reasons solar cells are not used more widely is cost—the materials used to make them most efficient are expensive. Engineers are exploring ways to print solar cells from inks, but the devices ...

Gold 'nano-drills'

Jan 22, 2015

Spherical gold particles are able to 'drill' a nano-diameter tunnel in ceramic material when heated. This is an easy and attractive way to equip chips with nanopores for DNA analysis, for example. Nanotechnologists ...

The importance of building small things

Jan 22, 2015

Strong materials, such as concrete, are usually heavy, and lightweight materials, such as rubber (for latex gloves) and paper, are usually weak and susceptible to tearing and damage. Julia R. Greer, professor ...

Graphene brings quantum effects to electronic circuits

Jan 22, 2015

Research by scientists attached to the EC's Graphene Flagship has revealed a superfluid phase in ultra-low temperature 2D materials, creating the potential for electronic devices which dissipate very little ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Ricochet
not rated yet Oct 28, 2011
I wonder if they could do the same thing with hemp.

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.