Wearable computers just moved a stitch closer to reality with the development of cotton fiber electric circuits and transistors. An international team of scientists from the United States, Italy and France have rendered cotton into field-effect transistors and electromechanical transistors by coating the threads with a mixture of materials. The new high-tech cotton yarn is in effect a flexible textile semiconductor, so t-shirts that double as computers could be right around the corner
Each cotton fiber is coated with a mix of gold nanoparticles, followed by a polymer and waterproof glycol coat. The resulting thread can be sewn, woven and bent into flexible clothing and fabrics. The coating process is not much more complicated than standard dyeing processes, and it yields flexible threads with elasticity.
This conducting yarn creates exciting new possibilities for computerized clothing. Rather than implanting garments with bulky chips or printed circuits, the entire fabric would be made up of one massive network of interconnections.
The thread could also be used to make up a bevy of safety-focused garments that detect radiation, toxic substances, and air pollution – these clothes could be used in disaster situations as part of standard monitoring equipment. The healthcare industry could also benefit from the yarn by creating shirts that monitor heart beats, blood pressure, and other functions. Personal devices could also become completely integrated into clothing – imagine if your jacket was also a GPS system, a music source and smart phone?
The cotton conductor’s development is just the first step in a long process of perfecting the technology, but it is an exciting step towards interactive clothing that goes beyond keeping us warm.
Via Extreme Tech
Second Image ©Foto Bulle