Fabrics plus Technology, Cool Designer Clothing Controls Electronics and Repels Bacteria
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – A new addition to your wardrobe may soon help
you turn on the lights and music – while also keeping you fresh, dry,
fashionable, clean and safe from the latest virus that’s going around.
Purdue University researchers have developed a new fabric innovation
that allows wearers to control electronic devices through clothing.
“It is the first time there is a technique capable to transform any
existing cloth item or textile into a self-powered e-textile containing
sensors, music players or simple illumination displays using simple
embroidery without the need for expensive fabrication processes
requiring complex steps or expensive equipment,” said Ramses Martinez,
an assistant professor in the School of Industrial Engineering and in
the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering in Purdue’s College of
The technology is featured in the July 25 edition of Advanced Functional Materials.
“For the first time, it is possible to fabricate textiles that can
protect you from rain, stains, and bacteria while they harvest the
energy of the user to power textile-based electronics,” Martinez said.
“These self-powered e-textiles also constitute an important advancement
in the development of wearable machine-human interfaces, which now can
be washed many times in a conventional washing machine without apparent
Martinez said the Purdue waterproof, breathable and antibacterial
self-powered clothing is based on omniphobic triboelectric
nanogeneragtors (RF-TENGs) – which use simple embroidery and fluorinated
molecules to embed small electronic components and turn a piece of
clothing into a mechanism for powering devices. The Purdue team says the
RF-TENG technology is like having a wearable remote control that also
keeps odors, rain, stains and bacteria away from the user.
“While fashion has evolved significantly during the last centuries
and has easily adopted recently developed high-performance materials,
there are very few examples of clothes on the market that interact with
the user,” Martinez said. “Having an interface with a machine that we
are constantly wearing sounds like the most convenient approach for a
seamless communication with machines and the Internet of Things.”
The technology is being patented through the Purdue Research
Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization. The researchers are
looking for partners to test and commercialize their technology.
Their work aligns with Purdue’s Giant Leaps celebration of the
university’s global advancements in artificial intelligence and health
as part of Purdue’s 150th anniversary. It is one of the four themes of
the yearlong celebration’s Ideas Festival, designed to showcase Purdue
as an intellectual center solving real-world issues.
About Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization
The Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology
Commercialization operates one of the most comprehensive technology
transfer programs among leading research universities in the U.S.
Services provided by this office support the economic development
initiatives of Purdue University and benefit the university’s academic
activities through commercializing, licensing and protecting Purdue
intellectual property. The office is managed by the Purdue Research
Foundation, which received the 2016 Innovation and Economic Prosperity
Universities Award for Innovation from the Association of Public and
Land-grant Universities. For more information on licensing a Purdue
innovation, contact the Office of Technology Commercialization at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about funding and investment opportunities in
startups based on a Purdue innovation, contact the Purdue Foundry at email@example.com. The Purdue Research Foundation is a private, nonprofit foundation created to advance the mission of Purdue University.