Wearable electronic, electrifying the fabric from which our clothing is made from is making a big step towards reality according to researchers at the Center for Graphene Science at the University of Exeter.
The Exeter team, headed by Dr Monica Craciun and Dr Saverio Russo, developed GraphExeter a highly conductive – electrically and thermally – material 200 times stronger than steel.
Graphene, some call it the ‘miracle material’ of the 21st Century, is able to conduct electricity over a sheet that is just one (1) atom thick. At this atomic level the layer appears invisible to the human eye.
GraphExeter is made by sandwiching molecules of ferric chloride between two layers of Graphene. The ferric chloride enhances the electrical conductivity of Graphene, without affecting the material’s transparency.
This development is significant because previous attempts to create extreme thin layers of transparent conductors faced high resistance and brittleness of such sheets. The use of ferric chloride between the Graphene layers reduced to resistance to a record low of 8.8 Ohms/square while keeping the optical transmittance higher than 84% in the visible range.
According to Dr Craciun, solar panels using GraphExeter will increases the power harvesting efficiency significantly because the wider range of light to which GraphExeter responses can push the solar panel efficiency to more than 30% – compared to a meager 7% of current flexible solar panel technology.
The potential of this invention is huge, spray-on of solar power harvesting properties on clothing without changing the texture or color of the fabric, printing invisible electronic circuits on clothing, ready to connect to the cloud.