Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Not-So-Heavy Metal: Electrical Conductivity In Textiles

Date:
May 28, 2007
Source:
NASA
Summary:
Movies and television have educated us more than we know. Thanks to detective thrillers, we understand about the drama of "wearing a wire." But a NASA-sponsored technology is paving the way for all of us to be "wearing a wireless." Metal wiring weaves a less-than-perfect web. Copper is the most common electrical conductor, but as with most metals, it can be heavy, expensive, and breakable. In contrast, conductive fibers provide a lightweight, flexible alternative to copper wiring.

Conductive fibers are shown stitched to cloth.
Credit: Syscom Technology, Inc.

Movies and television have educated us more than we know. Thanks to detective thrillers, we understand about the drama of "wearing a wire." But a NASA-sponsored technology is paving the way for all of us to be "wearing a wireless."

Metal wiring weaves a less-than-perfect web. Copper is the most common electrical conductor, but as with most metals, it can be heavy, expensive, and breakable. In contrast, conductive fibers provide a lightweight, flexible alternative to copper wiring.

Think of conductive fibers as electric yarn where a polymer fiber is given a metallized coating. Multiple fibers are then wrapped together to form light, supple strands that conduct electricity.

While less conductive than copper, these fibers can carry virtually any necessary current. Coupled with lightness and flexibility, this is very useful in space applications where electronics battle small spaces and severe stress. These properties are also ideal for electromagnetic interference (EMI) shielding, aerospace wiring, and other applications that need strong, lightweight conductivity. Conductive fibers can also reduce the cost of metal wiring.

Despite its obvious benefits, this technology hasn't always been readily available because of production challenges. NASA partnerships within the high-tech textile industry have advanced development and manufacturing processes, increasing output while reducing cost.

While they have many uses in the space industry, conductive fibers can also reduce the maintenance cost of commercial planes, military aircraft, and missile guidance wires. On the ground, you might see them in power lines, lightweight deployable antennas, and airbag wiring in cars. Giant-areas of flexible circuits might be used for mass energy harvesting. You could also reach out and touch this technology in the form of a flexible keyboard.

If all of this gives you a chill of anticipation, you can warm up with heated clothing or thermal blankets interwoven with conductive fibers. The electronic textiles (electrotextiles) industry is still in its infancy, but future fabrics will offer protection from the environment while still being soft and comfortable. Intelligent, built-in features -- such as multifunctional sensors and computing devices -- will result in the ultimate smart accessories.

Conductive fibers are already being woven into experimental medical patient apparel such as jackets and vests that transmit vital signs to health care personnel. Military and law enforcement personnel can benefit from uniforms and body armor equipped with built-in sensors and computing devices. This would enhance battlefield monitoring by reporting vital signs and wound locations on soldiers.

Electrotextiles may one day provide a variety of functions ranging from listening to MP3s to controlling temperature. Sometime in the near future, you may see people wearing clothes wired for cell phones, PDAs, gaming devices, and music players. One of those people may be you.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NASA. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

NASA. "Not-So-Heavy Metal: Electrical Conductivity In Textiles." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 May 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/05/070527101905.htm>.
NASA. (2007, May 28). Not-So-Heavy Metal: Electrical Conductivity In Textiles. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/05/070527101905.htm
NASA. "Not-So-Heavy Metal: Electrical Conductivity In Textiles." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/05/070527101905.htm (accessed July 29, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Baluchistan Mining Eyes an Uncertain Future

Baluchistan Mining Eyes an Uncertain Future

AFP (July 29, 2014) Coal mining is one of the major industries in Baluchistan but a lack of infrastructure and frequent accidents mean that the area has yet to hit its potential. Duration: 01:58 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short

Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short

AP (July 29, 2014) The U.S. nuclear industry started building its first new plants using prefabricated Lego-like blocks meant to save time and prevent the cost overruns that crippled the sector decades ago. So far, it's not working. (July 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Lithium Battery 'Holy Grail' Could Provide 4 Times The Power

Lithium Battery 'Holy Grail' Could Provide 4 Times The Power

Newsy (July 28, 2014) Stanford University published its findings for a "pure" lithium ion battery that could have our everyday devices and electric cars running longer. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming

The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming

AP (July 28, 2014) AP Investigation: As the Obama administration weans the country off dirty fuels, energy companies are ramping-up overseas coal exports at a heavy price. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins