Scientists Invent Smart Fibre that can be Woven into Clothes

Published Date : Aug 13, 2018

For the first time ever, researchers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Boston, have been able to develop fibers embedded with electronics elements that are flexible enough to be woven into washable soft fabrics to make wearable clothing products. Being able to embed optoelectronic semiconductor elements such as diode photo-detectors and light-emitting diodes into washable fabrics makes possibility of developing clothing products that can optically communicate with ease with other devices. The team has demonstrated that similar fibers were capable of transmitting music to detector fibers, the functionality of which was also tested underwater.

The most exciting part of the discovery is that the researchers were able to add light-emitting semiconductor diodes of size as minute as a sand grain and a pair of copper wires that had the dimensions of a human hair. The discovery is a step ahead in expanding the fundamental characteristics of fabrics to make them capable of delivering features such as lighting, communication, and physiological monitoring.

In this case, the researchers used two types of solid components developed with the help of conventional microchip method: photosensing diodes and LEDs. The woven fabrics that incorporated the resulting fiber was laundered 10 times for demonstrating the practical usage of the final product as a potential material for manufacturing wearable clothing items. Another advantage of embedding optoelectronic elements directly into the fibre material is that the final fibre is fundamentally waterproof. For demonstrating the waterproof nature of the final fibre, it was placed inside a fish tank. The fiber worked and survived in the water for several weeks.