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Prof. Xu Bingang’s team develops biocompatible materials for new e-textiles

29 May 2024

Research & Innovation

Realising flexible electronics with wear comfort and durability that are comparable to traditional textiles is one of the ultimate pursuits of smart wearables. The fabrication of e-textiles is ideally to print conductive ink onto fabric, which is a simple and inexpensive process. However, fabricating high-performance atop textiles with good dispersity, stability, biocompatibility, and wearability for high-resolution, large-scale manufactured, and practical applications has remained challenging.

Recently, Prof. Xu Bingang and his team made an innovative breakthrough in the field with the development of water-based multi-walled carbon nanotube (MWCNT) -decorated liquid metal (LM) inks with a carbonaceous micro-nanostructure of gallium–indium for new e-textiles. With the use of biopolymers, the sodium alginate-encapsulated LM droplets contain high carboxyl groups which non-covalently crosslink with silk sericin-mediated MWCNTs. The new e-textiles can be subsequently prepared via a printing technique for a naturally waterproof triboelectric coating, which facilitates good flexibility, hydrophilicity, breathability, wearability, biocompatibility, conductivity, stability, and excellent versatility, without the need for any artificial chemicals. The obtained e-textiles can be used in various applications with designable patterns and circuits. Multi-sensing applications that recognise complex human movements, breathing, phonation, and pressure distribution are found with repeatable and reliable signals. Self-powered and energy-harvesting capabilities are also presented by driving electronic devices and lighting LEDs. As proof of concept, this work provides new opportunities in a scalable and sustainable way to develop novel wearable electronic textiles and smart clothing for future commercial applications.

The work is published in Nano-Micro Letters which has an impact factor of 26.6. The first author is Miss Chung King-yan, Clarie (BA, 2019), a local first-class honour graduate from our BA programme. She is currently pursuing her PhD study under the supervision of Prof. Xu Bingang.

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