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Smart silk fabric with hazard sensing and touch positioning capabilities
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Smart silk fabric with hazard sensing and touch positioning capabilities

With the rise of smart wearable devices, people are committed to developing smart textiles with sensing functions similar to human skin. However, so far, the perception and adaptability of related products, as well as the accuracy of identification, still need to be improved.

Recently, the team of Professor Zhang Yingying from the Department of Chemistry at Tsinghua University prepared silk-based ionic hydrogel (SIH) fibers with excellent mechanical and electrical properties, and designed an intelligent sensing textile based on this. The textile can quickly respond to external dangers, such as fire, water immersion and scratches by sharp objects; at the same time, it is also designed to be able to specifically identify and accurately locate the sensing textiles of human finger touch, so that it can assist people to conveniently control remote terminals.

The researchers prepared regenerated silk fibers and performed solvent exchange on the fibers to prepare SIH fibers. The fiber exhibits good flexibility, transparency, and braidability, and has good electrical conductivity and can be used as a flexible transparent electrode for electroluminescent devices.

SIH fiber exhibits excellent mechanical and electrical properties, with its tensile strength and elongation at break reaching 4MPa and 530% respectively, and further drawing treatment can increase its tensile strength to 55MPa, which is higher than that of previously reported hydrogels. Fiber is several times higher. Its ionic conductivity can reach 0.45S/m and remains stable after being placed for 3 weeks or under various mechanical stimuli. 
Researchers explored the potential application of SIH fibers in hazard-sensing smart textiles. A smart protective glove for bionic robotic hands was designed by integrating SIH fibers into commercial gloves. When exposed to hazardous conditions, smart gloves generate characteristic electrical signals to accurately identify those hazards.
In addition, researchers also used SIH fibers to design fibers and fabrics that can specifically identify and accurately locate the touch of human hands. The SIH fiber-based fabric is first prepared, and then through the design of the circuit system, the site or area touched by the human hand can be specifically identified and accurately positioned, which makes it different from the piezoresistive or capacitive type that responds to any object contact/pressure. Sensing fabrics. When people wear fabrics made of SIH fibers, they can control remote terminals by touching them.
Relevant research demonstrates the great potential of natural silk materials in the field of smart wearables, and provides a reference for the design and preparation of next-generation smart wearable devices and flexible smart textiles.

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