A group of researchers from Dartmouth College, New Hampshire have come up with a smart fabric that can not just uncover the presence of hazardous gases but also save the wearer from their ill-effects. It is called SOFT, which is an acronym for Self-Organised Framework on Textiles. The material is conductive and flexible, yet washable and porous.
As per the Dartmouth team of scientists, the fabric will enable real-time gas detection. The material is meant to be worn by emergency services and military personnel along with the head-to-toe covering hazmat suit and is meant to alert the user about an infringement in the primary barrier. By using the material in a protective suit, the sensors embedded in it can warn the wearer of a toxic chemical entering the hazardous-material gear. Besides, it can also alert the wearer of a defect or tear in the fabric, or if its performance is being hampered in some other way.
What are its various functions?
This development is expected to have big implication for the emergency service personnel, military, and other workers currently dependent on the hazmat suit for protection while carrying out their dangerous tasks.
The research study which was out in the Journal of the American Chemical Society states that the SOFT devices can bring about real-time gas detection in wearable systems and adsorbent layers in electronically accessible protective equipment such as gas masks.
The SOFT system has been able to detect nitric oxide, vehicular pollutants, and the corrosive poison which brings to mind rotten eggs and hydrogen sulfide. The electronic textiles can sense chemicals and also capture and filter harmful toxins.
The technology needs to be honed further before it can find application in state-of-the-art wearable systems