NPL has developed a technique for chemically bonding a nano-silver layer onto fibres in a textile. The step change advantage of their method is that the conductive path is applied by an additive method and can be patterned to form circuits. The silver is bound around individual fibres in each thread giving 100% coverage with good adhesion and flexibility. Excellent resistivity of the textile has been achieved, <0.2Ω/sq.
The nanosilver coated fabric can be used in a wide range of applications such as wound dressings, hygienic clothing and medical applications where the presence of bacteria is hazardous. For example, it can be used for the fabrication of face masks, surgical gloves and military uniforms where the infection of the wound can have severe effect. The high flexibility of fabric textiles allows them to be employed in the health, leisure and sports industries.
Since the conductive pattern is incorporated within the textile, it ensures that sensors are repeatedly positioned in the same location on the body. This will lead to improved accuracy of the sensor by preventing sensor misplacement. It also adds a negligible weight and thickness to the clothes and multiple electronic circuitry patterns can be placed on a garment in a single setup. As an example, wireless wearable sensors for home monitoring of physiological data of a heart could, for instance, overcome shortcomings of currently available technology such as "Holter monitoring" and significantly improve
the diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular diseases. Another example would be for a patient with a motor disorder such as Parkinson's disease, where the monitoring of physiological movement could facilitate medication titration as the disease progresses.
In general, there is an increasing demand for wearable electronics from industries such as sport and fitness, consumer electronics, medical and healthcare, and defence applications. Manufacturing flexible and complex electronic circuitry patterns could be successfully solved by the use of this method and can be applied in the future design of intelligent clothing. This additive process permits complex circuit traces to be added to fabrics for a wide range of uses. Devices or sensors can be positioned by directly building them into fabric, which offers a novel approach for providing information routing within fabric, which is a major hurdle in electronic textile development.
Source and top image: NPL
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