A recently developed new method for generation of conductive cotton fabrics with graphene-based ink can be the key to wearable and flexible electronics. And the best part, all this can be created without inclusion of any toxic or expensive procedure. Textile-based, wearable electronics give out ample possibilities for flexible circuits, environmental monitoring, energy conversion, as well as healthcare. A breakthrough came up when a team of researchers working at the Cambridge Graphene Centre (CGC) from the University of Cambridge devised a new procedure for deposition of graphene-based inks over cotton to generate a conductive fabric. They did this job in collaboration with a team of scientists from Jiangnan University, China. Their project demonstrates how a wearable motion sensor working when it is based over conductive cotton.
Cotton happens to be one of the most comfortable and breathable fabrics to wear and has ability to last up to several washes. These features make it a perfect choice for textile electronics. The new process was developed by Dr. Felice Torrisi and his team speaks of a low-cost eco-friendly and sustainable way for creation of conductive cotton textiles by simple impregnation with a graphene-based conductive ink. Taking a cue from printable graphene inks for flexible electronics the team formulated inks of chemically modified graphene flakes that adhere to the cotton fibers and unmodified graphene. This adhesion of modified graphene over cotton fiber is very much similar to the way dyes blend with cotton fibers. These permit the fabric to stay conductive even after multiple washes. Most of the wearable technologies that have been developed in other parts of the world mostly depend upon some rigid electronics components that are mounted over flexible materials like textiles or plastic films. These have very less compatibility with human skin and get damaged within a few washes and very uncomfortable to wear. Dr. Torrisi explains, “Other conductive inks are made from precious metals such as silver, which makes them very expensive to produce and not sustainable, whereas graphene is both cheap, environmentally-friendly, and chemically compatible with cotton,” Professor Chaoxia Wang from the Jiangnan University, the co-author of this paper, also adds, “This method will allow us to put electronic systems directly into clothes. It’s an incredible enabling technology for smart textiles.”
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