It’s a whole new way of thinking about sensors. The tiny fibers developed at EPFL are made of elastomer and can incorporate materials like electrodes and nanocomposite polymers. The fibers can detect even the slightest pressure and strain and can withstand deformation of close to 500% before recovering their initial shape. All that makes them perfect for applications in smart clothing and prostheses, and for creating artificial nerves for robots.
The fibers were developed at EPFL’s Laboratory of Photonic Materials and Fiber Devices (FIMAP), headed by Fabien Sorin at the School of Engineering. The scientists came up with a fast and easy method for embedding different kinds of microstructures in super-elastic fibers. For instance, by adding electrodes at strategic locations, they turned the fibers into ultra-sensitive sensors. What’s more, their method can be used to produce hundreds of meters of fiber in a short amount of time. Their research has just been published in Advanced Materials.
Heat, then stretch
To make their fibers, the scientists used a thermal drawing process, which is the standard process for optical-fiber manufacturing. They started by creating a macroscopic preform with the various fiber components arranged in a carefully designed 3D pattern. They then heated the preform and stretched it out, like melted plastic, to make fibers of a few hundreds microns in diameter. And while this process stretched out the pattern of components lengthwise, it also contracted it crosswise, meaning the components’ relative positions stayed the same. The end result was a set of fibers with an extremely complicated microarchitecture and advanced properties.
Until now, thermal drawing could be used to make only rigid fibers. But Sorin and his team used it to make elastic fibers. With the help of a new criterion for selecting materials, they were able to identify some thermoplastic elastomers that have a high viscosity when heated. After the fibers are drawn, they can be stretched and deformed but they always return to their original shape.
Rigid materials like nanocomposite polymers, metals and thermoplastics can be introduced into the fibers, as well as liquid metals that can be easily deformed. “For instance, we can add three strings of electrodes at the top of the fibers and one at the bottom. Different electrodes will come into contact depending on how the pressure is applied to the fibers. This will cause the electrodes to transmit a signal, which can then be read to determine exactly what type of stress the fiber is exposed to – such as compression or shear stress, for example,” says Sorin.
Artificial nerves for robots
Working in association with Professor Dr. Oliver Brock (Robotics and Biology Laboratory, Technical University of Berlin), the scientists integrated their fibers into robotic fingers as artificial nerves. Whenever the fingers touch something, electrodes in the fibers transmit information about the robot’s tactile interaction with its environment. The research team also tested adding their fibers to large-mesh clothing to detect compression and stretching. “Our technology could be used to develop a touch keyboard that’s integrated directly into clothing, for instance” says Sorin.
The researchers see many other potential applications. Especially since the thermal drawing process can be easily tweaked for large-scale production. This is a real plus for the manufacturing sector. The textile sector has already expressed interest in the new technology, and patents have been filed.
The Latest on: Elastic smart fiber
[google_news title=”” keyword=”elastic smart fiber” num_posts=”10″ blurb_length=”0″ show_thumb=”left”]
via Google News
The Latest on: Elastic smart fiber
- Silk sleep masks are better for your skin and lashes in the fallon September 21, 2023 at 5:11 am
If you use an eye mask while you sleep, it may be worth switching to a silk version to protect your skin from moisture loss.
- The Best Microfiber Hair Towelson September 20, 2023 at 12:45 pm
Some designs include the addition of buttons to hold the towel in place, an elastic edge to keep it in place, and gripping straps. Microfiber hair towels are often used as an alternative to hot tools ...
- Researchers develop biodegradable optical fiber to measure or modulate electrical current in the bodyon September 20, 2023 at 12:11 pm
Electrical signals control a vast number of activities in the human body, from exchanges of messages between brain neurons and stimulation of the heart muscle to the impulses that enable hands and ...
- New Bike Tires Made From NASA’s Rubbery Metal Alloy Are Now Availableon September 14, 2023 at 11:03 am
A pair of Shark Tank alumni are turning nitinol, a shape memory alloy developed by NASA for space travel, into something you can put on your bike. A Kickstarter campaign launched this week promises to ...
- Team develops microelectrodes with soft, stretchable and permeable properties for implantable bioelectronic deviceson September 11, 2023 at 8:50 am
Electronic devices that can be attached to the skin or even implanted in the body will become more and more prevalent in near-future technology. Such "implantable bioelectronics" are envisaged as ...
- The Best Slim Wallets for Men Living in the Modern, Minimalist Money-Carrying Eraon September 7, 2023 at 3:22 pm
The best slim wallets for men reimagine what everyday carry looks (and feels) like. Why schlep a bevy of cards, cash, and receipts? Lightening the load is liberating. If you're like most men, you've ...
- Jean Smart Shares Her "Famous" Fiber-Packed, Comforting Dinner—Here's How to Make Iton September 6, 2023 at 5:05 pm
Luckily, we have a plan in place to help combat the stress and discomfort being sick may bring, thanks to Jean Smart and her partnership with Pfizer's Know Plan Go campaign. Best known for her ...
- 15 AirTag Wallets To Keep Your Cash Accounted Foron September 6, 2023 at 2:02 pm
These 15 best AirTag wallets you can buy. They offer the benefit of Bluetooth tracking of the cards, cash, and IDs you carry everyday. Shop the best options.
- Gary celebrates groundbreaking on $8 million ‘Fiber Smart House’ in disused Union Stationon August 28, 2023 at 2:05 pm
Delon Anderson, on right, sister of Decay Devils president Tyrell Anderson, and Candice Anderson, wife to Tyrell, react as Tyrell speaks during a groundbreaking ceremony for the "Fiber Smart House ...
via Bing News