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article imageAncient paper influences smart clothing

By Tim Sandle     Apr 8, 2018 in Science
Smart and connected clothing is receiving considerable investment, even if the take-up from the public remains muted. An example of a new design in fabrics is where variations of origami have provided inspiration.
One reason for the slow development with smart clothing, designed for connected devices, is because electronics do not easily stretch. The ideas of clothes that power devices or which change color or keep a person warm, all rely upon electronic circuits in some shape or form. For such smart clothing to be worn easily, the electronics need to fit seamlessly with the clothing and bend according to the movements of the wearer.
In a breakthrough in building flexible electronics, researchers from the University at Buffalo have described how describes how a variation of a variation of origami, called kirigami, has inspired their efforts to build malleable electronics.
Kirigami is a variation of origami that includes cutting of the paper, rather than solely folding the paper as is the case with origami (the art of paper folding, which is often associated with Japanese culture), but kirigami typically does not use glue. Simple kirigami constructs are usually symmetrical, such as snowflakes, pentagrams, or orchid blossoms.
The new innovation involves forming small sheets of strong and bendable electronic materials made of special polymers and nanowires. The aim is to seek improvements in smart clothing plus other innovations require a high degree of electronic flexibility, such as electronic skin, bendable display screens and electronic paper.
Discussing the concept with Controlled Environments magazine, lead researcher Professor Shenqiang Ren said: “Traditional electronics, like the printed circuit boards in tablets and other electronic devices, are rigid. That’s not a good match for the human body, which is full of bends and curves.”
He goes on further to explain the design concept: “We examined the design principles behind kirigami, which is an efficient and beautiful art form, and applied them to our work to develop a much stronger and stretchable conductor of power.”
The research involves computational modeling and it involves nanoconfinement engineering and strain engineering. These are engineering approaches to semiconductor manufacturing that can increase device performance. The polymer used is PthTFB. With the application of kirigami, the polymer can be stretched up to 2,000 percent.
The new research has been published in the journal Advanced Materials. The paper is titled “Kirigami‐Inspired Nanoconfined Polymer Conducting Nanosheets with 2000% Stretchability.”
More about Clothing, Fashion, smart clothing, Nanotechnology, Kirigami
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