Ionic conductive fibers provide a new track for smart and functional textiles

Ionic conductive fibers provide a new track for smart and functional textiles

Ionofiber a new track for smart and functional textiles

Experiment with ionic fibers. Credit: Claude Huniade

Electronically conductive fibers are already used in smart textiles, but in a recently published research article, ionically conductive fibers have proven to be of increasing interest. The so-called ion fibers achieve higher flexibility, durability and match the type of lead our body uses. In the future, they may be used for such things as textile batteries, textile displays and textile muscles.

The research project, which is shown in Advanced material technologyis carried out by doctoral student Claude Huniade at the University of Borås, Sweden, and is a track within a major project, Weafing, whose goal is to develop new, never-before-seen garments for haptic stimulation comprising flexible and portable. textile actuators and sensors.

In Claude Huniade’s project, the goal is to produce conductive yarns without conductive metals.

“My research is about producing electrically conductive textile fibers, and ultimately yarn, by coating non-metals sustainably on commercial yarns. The biggest challenge lies in the balance between maintaining the textile properties and adding the conductive property,” says Claude Huniade.

At present, his research into the strategies used in coating is unique. These strategies expand into the processes and materials used.

Ionic liquid

One of the tracks Huniade is investigating is a new type of material used as a textile coating – ionic liquids in combination with commercial textile fibers. Like salt water, they conduct electricity, but without water. Ionic liquid is a more stable electrolyte than saltwater because nothing evaporates.

“The machinable aspect is an important requirement because textile manufacturing can be tough on textile fibers, especially when expanding their use. The fibers can also be made into woven or knitted without damaging them mechanically while maintaining their conductivity. Surprisingly, they were even more flexible to process into fabrics other than the commercial yarns they are made of, “explains Huniade.

Ion fibers could be used as sensors since then ionic liquids are sensitive to their surroundings. For example, moisture changes can be felt by the ionofibers, but they can also feel every stretch or pressure they are exposed to.

“Ion fibers can really shine when combined with other materials or devices that require electrolytes. Ion fibers make certain phenomena that are currently limited to occur in liquids possible in the air in a light-weight way. The applications are several and unique, for example for textile batteries , textile screens or textile muscles “, says Huniade.

More research is needed to combine the ionofibers with other functional fibers to produce the unique textile products.

And how do ionic fibers stand out compared to ordinary electronically conductive fibers? “Compared to electronically conductive fibers, ionic fibers are different in how they conduct electricity. They are less conductive, but they provide other properties that electronically conductive fibers often lack. Ion fibers achieve higher flexibility, durability and match the type of conductivity our body uses. They actually matches better than electronically conductive fibers with how electricity is found in nature “, concludes Huniade.

Researchers are developing fully woven, smart displays

More information:
Claude Huniade et al, Ionofibers: Ionically Conductive Textile Fibers for Conformal i-Textiles, Advanced material technology (2022). DOI: 10.1002 / admt.202101692

Provided by the University of Borås

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