Patterning method could help develop smart textiles, finds research

Industry Insights

Fiber composed of a number of materials that can integrate glass, metal, and semiconductors could be useful for applications such as smart textiles, biomedicine, and robotics. However, since the material of the fibers is same along their lengths, it makes it difficult to position functional elements such as sensors and electrodes at specific locations.

To address this, in a new development, researchers have developed a method to design very long length multimaterial fibers embedded with functional elements.

The initiative undertaken by a team of researchers involved developing a thiol-one/thiol-epoxy polymer that could be combined with other materials. Researchers took a cue from a macroscale model that were heated and drawn into fibers coated with the polymer.

Photosensitivity of Multimaterial Fiber enable crosslinking into network

The fiber, which is photosensitive, when exposed to ultraviolet light, crosslinked into a network that was insoluble to common solvents such as acetone.

Meanwhile, in a process known as photolithography, researchers placed masks at specific locations along the fiber, thereby protecting the underlying areas from UV light. Following this, masks removed and the fiber treated with acetone.

As a result of the process, the polymer in the covered areas dissolved to expose the underlying materials. To prove the concept, researchers created design along fibers. This exposed an electrically conducting filament below the thiol-ene/thiol-epoxy coating.

In fact, the remaining part of the polymer worked as an insulator along the length of the fiber. Therefore, employing this method, microdevices or other electrodes could be placed in customizable patterns along multimaterial fibers, say researchers.

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