Graphene holds key to unlocking creation of wearable electronic devices

May 11, 2015, University of Exeter
Credit: AlexanderAlUS/Wikipedia/CC BY-SA 3.0

Ground-breaking research has successfully created the world's first truly electronic textile, using the wonder material Graphene.

An international team of scientists, including Professor Monica Craciun from the University of Exeter, have pioneered a new technique to embed transparent, flexible graphene electrodes into fibres commonly associated with the industry.

The discovery could revolutionise the creation of wearable , such as clothing containing computers, phones and MP3 players, which are lightweight, durable and easily transportable.

The international collaborative research, which includes experts from the Centre for Graphene Science at the University of Exeter, the Institute for Systems Engineering and Computers, Microsystems and Nanotechnology (INESC-MN) in Lisbon, the Universities of Lisbon and Aveiro in Portugal and the Belgian Textile Research Centre (CenTexBel), is published in the leading scientific journal Scientific Reports.

Professor Craciun, co-author of the research said: "This is a pivotal point in the future of wearable electronic devices. The potential has been there for a number of years, and transparent and flexible electrodes are already widely used in plastics and glass, for example. But this is the first example of a textile electrode being truly embedded in a yarn. The possibilities for its use are endless, including textile GPS systems, to biomedical monitoring, personal security or even communication tools for those who are sensory impaired. The only limits are really within our own imagination."

At just one atom thick, graphene is the thinnest substance capable of conducting electricity. It is very flexible and is one of the strongest known materials. The race has been on for scientists and engineers to adapt graphene for the use in wearable electronic devices in recent years.

This new research has identified that 'monolayer graphene', which has exceptional electrical, mechanical and optical properties, make it a highly attractive proposition as a transparent electrode for applications in wearable electronics. In this work graphene was created by a growth method called chemical vapour deposition (CVD) onto copper foil, using a state-of-the-art nanoCVD system recently developed by Moorfield.

The collaborative team established a technique to transfer graphene from the copper foils to a polypropylene fibre already commonly used in the .

Dr Helena Alves who led the research team from INESC-MN and the University of Aveiro said: "The concept of wearable technology is emerging, but so far having fully textile-embedded transparent and flexible technology is currently non-existing. Therefore, the development of processes and engineering for the integration of graphene in textiles would give rise to a new universe of commercial applications. "

Dr Ana Neves, Associate Research Fellow in Prof Craciun's team from Exeter's Engineering Department and former postdoctoral researcher at INESC added: "We are surrounded by fabrics, the carpet floors in our homes or offices, the seats in our cars, and obviously all our garments and clothing accessories. The incorporation of electronic devices on fabrics would certainly be a game-changer in modern technology.

"All electronic devices need wiring, so the first issue to be address in this strategy is the development of conducting textile fibres while keeping the same aspect, comfort and lightness. The methodology that we have developed to prepare transparent and conductive textile fibres by coating them with graphene will now open way to the integration of electronic devices on these textile fibres"

Dr Isabel De Schrijver, an expert of smart textiles from CenTexBel said: "Successful manufacturing of has the potential for a disruptive technology with a wide array of potential new applications. We are very excited about the potential of this breakthrough and look forward to seeing where it can take the electronics industry in the future."

Professor Saverio Russo, co-author and also from the University of Exeter, added: "This breakthrough will also nurture the birth of novel and transformative research directions benefitting a wide range of sectors ranging from defence to health care. "

In 2012 Professor Craciun and Professor Russo, from the University of Exeter's Centre for Graphene Science, discovered GraphExeter - sandwiched molecules of ferric chloride between two graphene layers which makes a whole new system that is the best known transparent material able to conduct electricity. The same team recently discovered that GraphExeter is also more stable than many transparent conductors commonly used by, for example, the display industry.

Explore further: GraphExeter defies the Achilles heel of 'wonder material' graphene

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14 comments

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gkam
1 / 5 (2) May 11, 2015
Isn't anybody concerned about the effects of this extremely-sharp film and what it can to to living cells?
Lischyn
1 / 5 (1) May 11, 2015
So, for how many yrs have someone said they have a new discovery that allows graphene to hit the commercial market that will change the electronics industry.. ho hum.... this is just another one.
SoylentGrin
not rated yet May 11, 2015
Isn't anybody concerned about the effects of this extremely-sharp film


Hm, it is sharp, isn't it? How about instead of STEM probes being a point, they can be made into a "blade" with graphene on the leading edge? See atomic images faster, like wiping a windshield wiper across a surface rather than a single record needle...
gkam
1 / 5 (1) May 11, 2015
Interesting "point" Soylent.

No pun intended, . . really.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (1) May 11, 2015
Interesting "point" Soylent.

No pun intended, . . really.
Hey arent you the guy who didnt know the difference between graphene and carbon fiber? Even though you did some kind of R&D on the stuff (for a few weeks)?

Sure you are.
gkam
1 / 5 (2) May 11, 2015
I am the guy who tested graphite fiber materials for NASA. You can find my name on the report.

What did you do?
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (1) May 12, 2015
I am the guy who tested graphite fiber materials for NASA
Well it certainly didnt inform you on graphene now did it? Although in a recent discussion with eikka you thought it did. Because you didnt know the difference.
You can find my name on the report
Nobody cares. But out of curiosity how long did that job last?
What did you do?
Nobody here cares what it is that I do. They know it has nothing to do with the facts I present, which need to speak for themselves.

If I started bragging, people would get the impression I was a self-centered jackass, like yourself. And I would lose credibility; like you have lost all of yours.

WHY IS IT that you are too ignorant to realize these things?
gkam
1 / 5 (1) May 12, 2015
gkam: You can find my name on the report

otto-wiki: Nobody cares. But out of curiosity how long did that job last?
-----------------------------------

I did the tests for NASA, and my name is on the report, and graphite is the issue in this thread, not your silly vendetta.

Who are YOU? Did you ever have a job? Prove it!

Even ONE job, . . . ever?

Prove it!

TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (1) May 12, 2015
I did the tests for NASA, and my name is on the report, and graphite is the issue in this thread
Uh no its graphene. Still dont know the difference? Try wiki.
Who are YOU? Did you ever have a job? Prove it!

Even ONE job, . . . ever?
WHAT makes you think that what people do informs you about what they know? WHAT makes you think that telling people what youve done makes the garbage you post any less WRONG??

WHAT makes you think that anything you have done would make the idea that fallout is the MAIN cause of lung cancer, RIGHT? Or that it gives you the right to post such profound ignorance?

What the fuck is WRONG with you george??

You need to answer these questions, at least to yourself, as it is a significant PROBLEM for you.
docile
May 12, 2015
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
gkam
1 / 5 (1) May 12, 2015
"Frankly I don't think that the molecular films are robust enough for to serve well just in wearable electronics."
------------------------------------------

I will bet on them to find a way.

But as in all my posts, I caution us on the potential health concerns of nanotechnology and graphite-based materials until we do extensive tests on the consequences.

The silly folk aside, I really did test some of this stuff for NASA, and it can cause significant trouble.

We will see.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (1) May 12, 2015
"Frankly I don't think that the molecular films are robust enough for to serve well just in wearable electronics."
------------------------------------------

I will bet on them to find a way.

But as in all my posts, I caution us on the potential health concerns of nanotechnology and graphite-based materials until we do extensive tests on the consequences
So dont chew on your pencil. And dont pretend you know what graphene is. Graphene wasnt discovered until well after your 6 months at NASA.

"The term graphene first appeared in 1987... nothing thinner than 50 to 100 layers was produced before 2004."
Graeme
5 / 5 (1) May 18, 2015
I find it interesting that sticky tape exfoliation of these layered crystals was already known and used in the early 1960s. But why did no one repeat it down to the monolayer?
However the future may not lie with graphene, which is a semimetal, but with the transition metal dichalcogenides liek MoTe2 which are already semiconductors. These TMDCs have made a lot of progress in the last two years with FET and electro-optic devices now built.
gkam
not rated yet May 18, 2015
I am still waiting for the reports of "collateral damage" when carbon materials burn. Graphene cuts tissues, carbon fiber ablates into tiny needles in the smoke which are respirable and opaque to radio frequencies and radar.

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