A collaborative research project at the University of Pennsylvania and Drexel endeavours to develop wearable textiles that monitor wearer’s health by analysing sweat.
The project incorporates nano yarn structures that can be knitted to form comfortable fabrics. The nano yarns in the fabric, by chemically analysing the sweat from the wearer, changes its colour as a way to monitor the wearer’s health condition.
According to the researchers, the nano yarns should resemble spiracles which are in the abdomen of insects or xylem in plants. These tiny pore structures modelled after biological beings will enable transport and make the fabrics comfortable. Nano structures are coated on their inside with chemistries which can change colour based on sweat analysis.
The team envisions using fluorescent dyes and colouring changing liquid crystals to impart functionality.
The project involves the groups of Professors Shu Yang and Randall Kamien from University of Pennsylvania and Genevieve Dion from Drexel University. The Keck Future Initiative has supported the work, which has so far resulted in hand knitted braid involving function nano yarns to analyse sweat.
It is becoming apparent that wearable textiles is a multidisciplinary field and more and more such developments are coming from non-traditional textile R&D bases.