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Smart Textiles

Durable semiconductor fibres at scale

Challenges overcome through careful material selection and specific steps taken during fibre production.

19th March 2024

Innovation in Textiles
 |  Singapore

Medical/Hygiene, Sports/​Outdoor

Reliably functioning semiconductor fibres must be flexible and without defects for stable signal transmission. Existing manufacturing methods, however, cause stress and instability, leading to cracks and deformities in the semiconductor cores, negatively impacting their performance and limiting their development.

Scientists from Nanyang Technological University (NTU) Singapore believe they have overcome these problems with newly-developed ultra-thin semiconductor filament fibres that can be woven into fabrics, turning them into smart wearable electronics.

The NTU scientists conducted modelling and simulations to understand how stress and instability occur during the manufacturing process and found that the challenges could be overcome through careful material selection and a specific series of steps taken during fibre production.

They developed a mechanical design and successfully fabricated hair-thin, defect-free filaments spanning 100 metres, to prove market scalability. Importantly the new fibres can be woven into fabrics using existing equipment.

To demonstrate the high quality and functionality of the new fibres, the NTU research team developed prototypes including a smart beanie hat to help a visually impaired person cross the road safely through alerts on a mobile phone application, a shirt that receives information and transmits it through an earpiece and a smartwatch with a strap that functions as a flexible sensor and conforms to the wrist of users for heart rate measurement, even during physical activities.

The team believes that its work represents a fundamental breakthrough in the development of semiconductor fibres that are ultra-long and durable, meaning they are cost-effective and scalable while offering excellent electrical and optoelectronic performance.

www.ntu.edu.sg

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