A team of researchers from the University of Cambridge have successfully integrated breathable, stretchable, and washable electronic circuits into fabric, creating new opportunities for the growth of the wearable electronics and the smart textile industries. These circuits have been created using cheap and eco-friendly inks and have been printed with traditional inkjet printing techniques. The team has been working with their colleagues in China and Italy and have displayed how graphene, a 2D form of carbon, can be printed directly onto the fabric to develop integrated electronic circuits, which are comfy in wearing and can endure up to twenty cycles in a traditional washing machine.
Based on sustainable, low-cost, and scalable inkjet printing of inks that utilize graphene and other 2D materials, the new and advanced textile electronic devices are manufactured by standard processing technologies. The results of this research are published in the Nature Communications journal. On the basis of the previous work on graphene ink formulations for printed electronics, the research team had designed and developed inks with low-boiling points, which could be printed directly onto the polyester fabric. In addition to this, it also found out that by altering the coarseness of the fabric the performance of printed devices can be improved. The adaptability of this process enabled researchers to design and develop all-printed integrated electronic circuits, along with single transistors, uniting both, active and passive components.
Most of the wearable electronic devices, which are currently available in the commercial space, depend upon rigid electronic components fixed on rubber, plastic, or textiles, resulting in limited compatibility with the wearer’s skin. In many circumstances, these devices are broken when washed and become uncomfortable to wear, as they loose breathability.