Skip to Content

Electronic Textiles Being Made

Textiles coated with carbon nanotubes form electronic sensors that look and feel like ordinary cotton.
Jian Zhu pulls a cotton thread out of the nano¬tube solution, where it’s been soaking for about two minutes. Zhu will allow the thread to dry and then repeat the process about nine times to maximize the thread’s electrical properties.
Visible in this image from a scanning electron microscope, the microscale fibers that make up a cotton thread provide a structural template for the nanotubes to adhere to.
Treated threads are attached to electrodes on five light-emitting diodes and to a power source (by the red and black clips). The threads carry enough current to light all five LEDs.
Zhu holds small patches of cotton cloth treated with the nanotube-Nafion solution. The dipping technique used on individual threads can also turn whole cloth into an electronic textile.
When antibodies to human albumin are added to the nanotube solution, the treated threads can sensitively detect blood. In a solution containing a small amount of human blood (dye added for visual emphasis), the thread becomes much less resistant to the flow of electrical current. A solution with just a tiny amount of albumin in it causes the thread’s resistance to drop significantly.

Keep Reading

Most Popular

transplant surgery
transplant surgery

The gene-edited pig heart given to a dying patient was infected with a pig virus

The first transplant of a genetically-modified pig heart into a human may have ended prematurely because of a well-known—and avoidable—risk.

Muhammad bin Salman funds anti-aging research
Muhammad bin Salman funds anti-aging research

Saudi Arabia plans to spend $1 billion a year discovering treatments to slow aging

The oil kingdom fears that its population is aging at an accelerated rate and hopes to test drugs to reverse the problem. First up might be the diabetes drug metformin.

Yann LeCun
Yann LeCun

Yann LeCun has a bold new vision for the future of AI

One of the godfathers of deep learning pulls together old ideas to sketch out a fresh path for AI, but raises as many questions as he answers.

images created by Google Imagen
images created by Google Imagen

The dark secret behind those cute AI-generated animal images

Google Brain has revealed its own image-making AI, called Imagen. But don't expect to see anything that isn't wholesome.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.