Designers of smart garments have a vision: that we’ll come to use electronics woven into the clothes we wear. Smart garments will have to be resilient in the face of everything from wash-and-fold to sweaty workouts, not to mention as long-lasting as a trusty t-shirt.
One key challenge has always been creating conductive wires that can carry current between components in a smart garment without breaking down over time as it flexes, twists, and gets wet.
Now, Chinese scientists say they’ve invented a new type of self-assembling silver nanowire, inspired by the capillaries in your cardiovascular system, that could be the most practical attempt yet.
Researchers at the Chinese Nanjing University of Posts and Telecommunications have created a silver-based wiring that’s cheap to make and could lead to more comfortable and durable smart textiles than ever before.
Here’s how it works.
The engineers behind this silver fiber found a way to manufacture tiny wires without much of the headache that normally comes with nanotech assembly.
Instead of painstakingly crafting the tiny wires that transport electricity throughout their fabric, the scientists concocted a silver-based solution that automatically soaks into tube-like fibers, drawing into the tube like blood into a capillary.
As the solution evaporates, it leaves behind flexible, durable, and highly-conductive silver nanowires, according to the research. Compared to traditional copper wires, they can withstand much more abuse without breaking.
That could mean a future with smart clothes that survive everyday wear and tear.
Reference- Futurism, PEI-Genesis