Materials

UV-activated polymer could make smart fabrics even smarter

UV-activated polymer could mak...
A diagram illustrating how the polymer is utilized
A diagram illustrating how the polymer is utilized
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A diagram illustrating how the polymer is utilized
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A diagram illustrating how the polymer is utilized

When producing "smart fabrics" made of conductive fibers, it can be difficult placing functional elements such as electrodes in specific locations along those fibers. A new polymer, however, could make doing so much easier.

Led by graduate student Youngbin Lee and Prof. Polina Anikeeva, a team at MIT started by developing the photosensitive thiol-epoxy/thiol-ene polymer itself. When the material is exposed to ultraviolet light, its molecules crosslink with one another to form a network that is impermeable to commonly used solvents.

That polymer was utilized to coat an electrically conductive filament, thus forming an insulated fiber with a conductive core. In a process known as photolithography, a series of opaque masks were then placed in various locations along the length of that fiber, after which it was exposed to UV light – this means that some parts of it were exposed to the light, while others were protected.

When the fiber was subsequently treated with acetone solvent, the polymer only dissolved off of the sections that had been shielded from the light. As a result, the conductive filament was exposed solely in those targeted locations, remaining insulated elsewhere along the fiber.

It is now hoped that once developed further, the technology could be used to manufacture smart fabric fibers with electrodes or other microdevices placed in predetermined patterns along their length.

The research is described in a paper that was recently published in the journal ACS Central Science.

Source: American Chemical Society

1 comment
Shep
How is any of this work original or publishable? Selective UV crosslinking without any demonstrated applications does not deserve a write up like this