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Introducing the Latest in Textiles: Soft Hardware

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Flexible fibers with embedded electronics.

A team of researchers has embedded semiconductor devices within fibers that can be woven into fabrics.

Credit: Michael Rein, Yoel Fink et al.

An international team led by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researchers has embedded high-speed optoelectronic semiconductor devices, including light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and diode photodetectors, within fibers woven into soft, washable fabrics, and converted them into communication systems.

The polymer preform LEDs are the size of a grain of sand, integrated with a pair of copper wires a fraction of a hair's width.

Applying heat during the fiber-drawing process caused partial liquefaction of the preform into a long fiber with the diodes aligned along its center and connected by the copper wires.

MIT's Michael Rein says, "Instead of drawing the material all together in a liquid state, we mixed in devices in particulate form, together with thin metal wires."

In addition to communications, the fibers could have significant potential in the biomedical field, for example, in wristbands that could measure pulse or blood oxygen levels.

From MIT News
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