This column presents technologies that have applications in commercial areas, possibly creating the products of tomorrow. To learn more about each technology, see the contact information provided for that innovation.
Electronic Textiles from Conductive Cellulose Thread
Chalmers University of Technology (Sweden) developed a thread made of conductive cellulose that can be used to create built-in electronics in non-toxic, renewable, and natural materials. Sewing the electrically conductive cellulose threads into a fabric using a standard household sewing machine, the researchers produced a thermoelectric textile that produces a small amount of electricity when it is heated on one side; for example, by a person's body heat. At a temperature difference of 37 °C, the textile can generate around 0.2 microwatts of electricity. Applications include regulating, monitoring, and measuring various health metrics.
Contact: Christian Müller, Professor,
Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering
+46-31-772 27 90
University College London (UK) developed a temporary tattoo that uses organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) and is applied in the same way as water-transfer tattoos. The OLEDs are fabricated onto temporary tattoo paper and transferred to a new surface by being pressed onto it and dabbed with water. It could be combined with other tattoo electronics to emit light when an athlete is dehydrated or when the wearer has been in the Sun too long. OLEDs could be tattooed on packaging or fruit to signal when a product has passed its expiration date or will soon become inedible.
Contact: Mark Greaves
+44 (0)7990 675947
Non-Destructive Testing of Composites
NASA's Langley Research Center developed a Non-Destructive Testing (NDT) method for identifying and characterizing hidden damage in composite materials. The technique requires only single-sided access to the test specimen and uses trapped energy analysis to detect and characterize damage that was previously obscured. The method uses 3D custom ultrasonic simulation tools to identify multilayer delamination damage. Understanding the extent of composite damage is essential for repair and replacement decisions and could prevent catastrophic in-service failure.