Are Smartshirts Next?

Tai Michaels | tai.michaels@yale.edu January 29, 2020

Are Smartshirts Next?

Image courtesy of the Gogotsi Lab, Drexel University

Cybernetic bodysuits sound like something from a sci-fi movie, but could they soon be making the jump to nonfiction? Professor Yury Gogotsi’s lab at Drexel University has demonstrated the potential of a new conductive yarn formed by coating fibers with MXenes—2D transition metal carbides discovered by Gogotsi and collaborators in 2011.

They not only demonstrated the effectiveness of their innovative conductive yarns in the lab, but they also created textiles using industrial knitting machines, put them through forty-five washing cycles at elevated temperatures, and ran a barrage of twisting and stretching tests. “Knitting these yarns was very challenging,” said researcher Simge Uzun. But they pressed on and made incredible progress—the tests only reduced their electrical conductivity of the yarns by a few percent.

A critical advantage of the new MXene-coated yarns is that sensing and energy storage can be integrated into the fibers instead of requiring bulky batteries and sensors as in current methods. This could be key to making wearable technology a reality rather than just a novelty. Wearable MXene-based fabrics could open doors to real time health monitoring, improved virtual reality, and uses we haven’t even begun to consider. 

In addition to continuing their research on multifunctionalMXene-based textiles, the A. J. Drexel Nanomaterials Institute is also exploring the possibility of working with companies to make the fabrics commercially available in the future. So keep an eye out—Mxene fabrics may be coming soon to stores near you.

Sources:

  • Naguib, M, Kurtoglu, M, Presser, V, Lu, J, Niu, J, Heon, M, Hultman, L, Gogotsi, Y, Barsoum, MW. August 22, 2011. Two‐Dimensional Nanocrystals Produced by Exfoliation of Ti3AlC2. Advanced Materials, 23:37 (4248-4253).
  • Uzun, S, Seyedin, S, Stoltzfus, AL, Levitt, AS, Alhabeb, M, Anayee, M, Strobel, CJ, Razal, JM, Dion, G, Gogotsi, Y. September 5, 2019. Knittable and Washable Multifunctional MXene‐Coated Cellulose Yarns. Advanced Functional Materials.
  • Bell, L. April 29, 2019. Fresh Developments In Fabric Tech Could Finally Push The Arrival Of ‘Truly Wearable’ Smart Garments. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/leebelltech/2019/04/29/fresh-developments-in-fabric-tech-could-finally-push-the-arrival-of-truly-wearable-smart-garments/#11d5c1ed2114.
  • Wearable Technology Insights. October 16, 2019. Wearable, washable textile devices possible with MXene-coated yarns. Wearable Technology Insights. https://www.wearabletechnologyinsights.com/articles/18452/wearable-washable-textile-devices-possible-with-mxene-coated-yarns.
  • Cicek, M. April, 2015. Wearable Technology and its Future Applications. International Journal of Electrical, Electronics and Data Communication, 3:4 (45:50).

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