‘Smart yarn’ in fabrics to monitor health, bleedingDecember 16th, 2008 - 5:19 pm ICT by IANS
Washington, Dec 16 (IANS) A carbon nanotube-coated ’smart yarn’ woven into soft fabrics could monitor bleeding and health. And such clothing that can detect blood could be useful in high-risk professions.For example, an unconscious firefighter, ambushed soldier, or police officer in an accident, for example, couldn’t send a distress signal to a central command post. But the smart clothing would have this capability.
A device like the mobile phone could conceivably transmit information from the clothing to a central command post, said Nicholas Kotov, professor in chemical and biomedical engineering, Michigan University.
“Currently, smart textiles are made primarily of metallic or optical fibres. They’re fragile. They’re not comfortable. Metal fibres also corrode. There are problems with washing such electronic textiles,” said Kotov.
“We have found a much simpler way … an elegant way - by combining two fibres, one natural and one created by nanotechnology,” Kotov said.
To make these “e-textiles”, researchers dipped 1.5-mm thick cotton yarn into a solution of carbon nanotubes in water and then into a solution of a special sticky polymer in ethanol.
After being dipped just a few times into both solutions and dried, the yarn was able to conduct enough power from a battery to illuminate a light-emitting diode device, said a Michigan University release.
“This turns out to be very easy to do,” Kotov said. “After just a few repetitions of the process, this normal cotton becomes a conductive material because carbon nanotubes are conductive.”
The only perceptible change to the yarn is that it turned black, due to the carbon. It remained pliable and soft.
In order to put this conductivity to use, the researchers added the antibody anti-albumin to the carbon nanotube solution. Anti-albumin reacts with albumin, a protein found in blood.
When the researchers exposed their anti-albumin-infused smart yarn to albumin, they found that the conductivity significantly increased. Their new material is more sensitive and selective as well as more simple and durable than other electronic textiles, Kotov said.
The study has been published online in Nano Letters.
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