【用丝绸制作可穿戴设备?创造“智能服装”】

【用丝绸制作可穿戴设备?创造“智能服装”】近日清华大学的研究人员研发出一种新型丝绸材料,制造智能可穿戴身体传感器。用石墨烯或碳纳米管来喂养蚕,开发出能导电的、更具柔韧性的蚕丝,丝线能制作出更逼真的机器人,可感测触摸,温度或湿度,甚至区分人们的声音。还能制作“智能服装”监测人体健康,使医生更方便地远程监控患者。

Wearables could soon be made of silk: Scientists are feeding silkworms GRAPHENE to make them produce strong and flexible materials that can also conduct electricity

  • Scientists are using silk to develop more sensitive multi-purpose devices
  • The highly sensitive technology could be used to create 'smart apparel'
  • By feeding silkworms graphene, the researchers hope the silk they produce will conduct electricity

By Phoebe Weston For Mailonline

From smart socks to workout clothes that measure exertion, wearable body sensors are becoming the latest 'must-have' technology.

Now, scientists are on the cusp of making them even stronger and more flexible, using silks.

In a new study, scientists have been feeding silkworms graphene to make them produce strong and flexible materials that can also conduct electricity.

The silk produced could be used to build more realistic robots that can sense touch, temperature or humidity and even distinguish between people's voices.

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Silk could soon be used to produce more sensitive and flexible body sensors like this one. Body sensors, which are usually made with semiconductors, have shown great potential for monitoring human health

WHY IS SILK SO GOOD?

Body sensors, which are usually made with semiconductors, have shown great potential for monitoring human health.

However, one problem is that strain sensors which measure changes in force cannot be highly stretchable and sensitive at the same time.

Silk, a natural material that is stronger than steel and more flexible than nylon, could overcome these problems.

Scientists have developed strain sensors, pressure sensors and a dual-mode sensor capable of measuring temperature and pressure simultaneously that all use these properties of silk.

The new silk materials are being created by researchers from Tsinghua University in China.

'There is a whole world of possibilities for silk sensors at the moment. Silk is the ideal material for fabricating sensors that are worn on the body,' Dr Yingying Zhang, who led the study, said.

'One possibility we foresee is for them to be used as an integrated wireless system that would allow doctors to more easily monitor patients remotely so that they can respond to their medical needs more rapidly than ever before.'

Body sensors, which are usually made with semiconductors, have shown great potential for monitoring human health.

However, one problem is that strain sensors which measure changes in force cannot be highly stretchable and sensitive at the same time.

Silk could overcome these problems as it is a natural material that is stronger than steel and more flexible than nylon.

But silk doesn't conduct electricity very well.

To address this challenge, Dr Zhang and colleagues at Tsinghua University in China sought to find a way to boost the conductivity of silk so it could be successfully used in body-sensing devices.

The researchers decided to try two different strategies.

In one approach, they treated the silk in an inert gas environment with temperatures ranging from 1,112 - 5,432°F (600°C - 3,000°C).

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The silk sensors could even be used to build more realistic robots that can sense touch, temperature or humidity and even distinguish between people's voices (stock image)

As a result, the silk became infused with carbon with some and graphite particles, which are electrically conductive.

Using this technique, the scientists have developed strain sensors, pressure sensors and a dual-mode sensor capable of measuring temperature and pressure simultaneously.

In the other approach, the team fed either graphene or carbon nanotubes to silkworms.

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The team fed either graphene or carbon nanotubes to silkworms. Some of these nanoparticles were naturally incorporated into the silk produced by the worms (stock image)

Some of these nanoparticles were naturally incorporated into the silk produced by the worms.

So far, this method hasn't produced electrically conductive fibers, but the researchers are still experimenting with this technique and are hopeful they can make it work.

Based on the preliminary results, Dr Zhang wants to explore ways to create an integrated set of silk-based, self-sustaining sensors that would be powered by nano-generators.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-4809448/Body-sensors-SILK-make-smart-clothing.html


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