Smart textiles or materials can be defined as the materials and structures which have sense or can sense the environmental conditions or stimuli, whereas intelligent textiles can be defined as textile structures which not only have sense but it can also react and respond to environmental conditions or stimuli. These stimuli as well as response, might be thermal, chemical, mechanical, electrical, magnetic or from other source. Smart textiles can be made by integrating smart materials, conductive polymers, encapsulated phase changing materials, shape memory polymers and materials and other electronic sensors and communication equipments. This paper deals with the recent developments in the field of smart and intelligent textiles and the fabrics that are used for the manufacturing of those products.
The paper also deals with the importance and the role of these smart materials in our day to day life. Some of the fabrics which are mentioned in this paper includes emana, ultraflect, shape memory fabrics, conductive fabrics, piezoelectric fabric, etc. Thus this paper shows the technological advancements and the enormous developments of intelligent textiles which helps to make our life easier and healthier.
Far infra red technology, thermo regulation, heart rate monitoring, sensors, self cleaning garments.
Our textile industry is distinctly moving towards an new era, an era of “smart and intelligent textiles”. There is a substantive difference between smart and intelligent textiles. Smart textiles or materials can be defined as the materials and structures which have sense or can sense the environmental conditions or stimuli, whereas intelligent textiles can be defined as textile structures which not only sense but also react and respond to environmental conditions or stimuli. These stimuli as well as response, could be thermal, chemical, mechanical, electrical, magnetic or from other source.
TYPES OF SMART TEXTILES:According to the manner of reaction, they can be divided into passive smart, active smart and very smart materials:
1. Passive smart materials: It can only sense the environmental conditions or stimuli; they are sensors;
2. Active smart materials: It will sense and react to the conditions or stimuli, besides the sensor function, they also have actuation characteristics;
3. Very smart materials: It can sense, react and adapt themselves accordingly;
4. Intelligent Textiles: An even higher level of intelligence can be achieved from those intelligent materials and structures capable of responding or activated to perform a function in a manual or pre-programmed manner.
‘Smart textiles’ are made possible due to advances in many technologies coupled with the advances in textile materials and structures. A partial list includes biotechnology, information technology, microelectronics, wearable computers, nanotechnology and micro electro-mechanical machines. Smart textiles can be made by integrating smart materials, conductive polymers, encapsulated phase changing materials, shape memory polymers and materials and other electronic sensors and communication equipments.
COMPONENTS OF SMART TEXTILES:Three components may be present in such materials:
- Controlling units
Actuators: Act upon the detected signal either directly or from a central control unit; together with the sensors, they are the essential element for active smart materials.
Controlling Unit: At even higher levels, like very smart or intelligent materials, controlling unit is essential, which works like the brain, with cognition, reasoning and activating capacities.
RECENT DEVELOPMENTS IN INTELLIGENT TEXTILES:Smart and intelligent textiles is facing a tremendous growth today, as a result many new inventions had been emerged. The following are some of the recent developments in the field of smart and intelligent textiles.
A. ARTUS – ARTIFICIAL UTERUS:ARTUS, the Artificial Uterus, developed by a team of experts at the Hohenstein Institute. It was the first artificial uterus which was designed to help premature babies to develop by providing sensory stimulation.
The premature babies need intensive medical care in incubators for weeks or even months. However, it has been known for some time that these premature babies miss the spatial confinement and prenatal sensory stimuli of the womb (uterus).
ARTUS can recreate the environment and sensory stimulation of a mother's womb in the incubator. Acoustic stimuli like the mother's heartbeat and voice are transmitted to the premature baby, together with mechanical sensations like the gentle rocking experienced in the mother's body.
|Fig: Artificial Uterus|
The artificial uterus will also incorporate a mechanical textile actuator to provide the sensory and motor stimuli and sensation of equilibrium that will promote the development of the infant's brain.From the medical point of view, these sensory impressions from the uterus should be provided to the baby immediately after its premature birth. Children born too early often find it hard to judge spatial distance, control their muscle tension or perform complex sequences of movements.
B. HRM GARMENTS:
Sensoria, a leader in wearable fitness and smart garment technology, is introducing a new smart line of colourful sports bras and t-shirts. The new app called Heart Sentinel, was connected to the heart rate monitoring (HRM) garments and detect certain cardiac irregularities. This garment was designed to meet the needs of all levels of fitness enthusiasts by including a new medium support sports bra for women and a new short sleeve T-shirt for men. “Heart Sentinel may also locate the person through GPS coordinates.
Each Sensoria garment is made with Emana yarn, the technically advanced and durable fabric that uses far infrared technology which keeps the wearer dry, comfortable and protected from the sun’s harmful UV rays, Emana yarn improves skin elasticity to reduce the appearance of cellulite and helps the muscle from fatigue.
“Everyday athletes can get advanced cardio training through comfortable heart rate zone, heart rate variability and cardiac irregularity alert tracking. This HRM garment replaces chest strap with comfortable and washable electrodes embedded in the fabric. This type of garment was mainly developed for athletics.
C. NANOCELLULOSE FILTER:
Scientists at Uppasala University, Sweden, in collaboration with German virologists, have developed cellulose nanofibre sheets to remove viruses from water. It has a layered structure and it will be able to remove even small sized viruses. This nano cellulose sheets acts as affordable filters which not only can remove viruses but also can have long life. These nano structured filters have pore structures that can filter viruses that are normally resistant to physical and chemical countermeasure processes.
|Fig: Nano cellulose filter|
D. ANTI-CANCER HAT:
Novocure, a private Jersey Isle oncology company, has introduced a novel therapy for solid tumours in a form of an anti-cancer hat that has been shown to increase patients’ chances of survival for two years by up to 50%.
The latest data show that the hat in combination with standard temozolomide chemotherapy will extend both progression-free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS) of the person when compared to temozolomide alone in patients with newly diagnosed glioblastoma. Glioblastoma is the most common form of primary brain
It is very difficult to treat glioblastoma as it is very complicated because the tumour cells are very resistant and damage the brain in conventional therapies and it has a poor capacity to repair itself.
The anti-cancer is a portable, non-invasive medical device designed for continuous use by patients and reverses tumour growth by inhibiting mitosis, the process by which cells divide and replicate.
It creates a low intensity, alternating electric field within a tumour that exerts physical forces on electrically charged cellular components, preventing the normal mitotic process and causing cancer cell death.
Researchers at the RMIT University have developed a cheap and efficient new way to grow special nanostructures, which can degrade organic matter when exposed to light. These textiles can spontaneously clean themselves of stains and grime simply by being put under a light bulb or worn out in the sun.
|Fig: Self cleaning textiles|
When the nanostructures are exposed to light, they receive an energy boost that creates hot electrons. These hot electrons release a burst of energy to degrade organic matter. When exposed to light, it took less than six minutes for some of the nano-enhanced textiles to spontaneously clean themselves.
Thus the world is moving at a very fast rate towards the growth of intelligent and smart textiles. Its applications are widely used in many fields such as medicine, agriculture, military, industry, sports, etc. But in India due to the lack of technologies we are in a very bad position in the growth and invention of smart and intelligent textiles. Government should provide some help and encourage our researchers towards the growth of intelligent textiles.
- Smart fibres, fabrics and clothing - Woodhead publishing limited, Cambridge, England.