|The nanotubes stay put and function even when the fabric is stretched|
Ordinary cotton and polyester fabrics have been turned into batteries that retain their flexibility.
The demonstration is a boost to the nascent field of “wearable electronics” in which devices are integrated into clothing and textiles.
The approach is based on dipping fabrics in an “ink” of tiny tubes of carbon, and was first demonstrated last year on plain copier paper.
The new application to fabrics is reported in the journal Nano Letters.
“Wearable electronics represent a developing new class of materials… which allow for many applications and designs previously impossible with traditional electronics technologies,” the authors wrote.
A number of research efforts in recent years have shown the possibility of electronics that can be built on flexible and even transparent surfaces – leading to the often-touted “roll-up display”.