The future with next generation e-textiles isn’t far it seems. Scientists from RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia have developed water-proof smart fabrics with cost-efficient and scaleable method.
With the help of energy harvesting technologies, this method just takes three minutes to fabricate a 10x10cm smart textile patch which is waterproof, stretchable and easily integrated. The technology uses graphene capacitors, which are powerful and long-lasting energy storage devices that can be easily paired with solar or other energy sources to be laser printed directly into textiles.
The researchers have developed a prototype by connecting the supercapacitor with a solar cell that delivers an efficient, washable and self-powering smart fabric, which will overcome the key drawbacks of existing e-textile energy storage technologies.
The smart textile industry has diverse applications in wearable devices for consumer, healthcare and defence sectors such as monitoring vital signs of patients, tracking the location and health status of soldiers in the field and monitoring pilots or drivers for fatigue.
According to Dr Litty Thekkakara, a researcher in RMIT’s School of Science, current approaches to smart textile energy storage like stitching batteries into garments or using e-fibres can be cumbersome and heavy and can also have capacity issues. These electronic components can also suffer short-circuits and mechanical failure when they come into contact with sweat or with moisture from the environment.