A simple textile treatment makes clothing last longer and repair itself, and can even turn a T-shirt into a cardiac monitor
Spotted: According to the European Parliament, textile production is estimated to be responsible for about 10 per cent of total global CO2 emissions and around 20 per cent of global clean water pollution. But what if textiles could last longer and require less cleaning? A research team from Flinders University, North Carolina State University, and South Korea may have an answer to that question.
The team has developed a metallic coating for wearable textiles that can repair itself and repel bacteria. The liquid coating consists of a solution of gallium and indium, suspended in isopropanol (isopropyl alcohol). Fabric is dipped in the solution and then dried with a hot-air gun, causing the metals to form tiny drops on the fabric, just a fraction of a micrometre in size.
Oxides form on the particles, making the textiles electrically insulating. However, if the textile is compressed, the oxides rupture and the liquid metal particles move around. This makes it possible to build an electronic circuit in the fabric by compressing the textile with a patterned mould. The conductive pathways can also heal themselves when cut.
Researcher Dr Vi Khanh Truong, deputy director of the Biomedical Nanoengineering Laboratory at Flinders University, adds that, “The conductive patterns autonomously heal when cut by forming new conductive paths along the edge of the cut, providing a self-healing feature which makes these textiles useful as circuit interconnects, Joule heaters and flexible electrodes to measure ECG signals.”
The growing waste and emissions from textile production has promoted a host of innovations aimed at making this industry more sustainable. Springwise has spotted a fabric made from banana fibres and a polyester made from waste CO2.
Written By: Lisa Magloff