The smart fabrics industry has applications in wearable devices for the consumer, healthcare, and defense sectors — from monitoring vital signs of patients, to tracking the location and health status of soldiers in the field, and monitoring pilots or drivers for fatigue. Smart textiles with built-in sensing, wireless communication, or health monitoring technology, however, call for robust and reliable energy solutions.

Current methods of smart textile energy storage, like stitching batteries into garments or using e-fibers, can be heavy and have capacity issues. Such electronic components can also suffer short-circuits and mechanical failure when they come into contact with sweat or moisture from the environment.

A scalable method was developed for rapidly fabricating textiles that are embedded with energy storage devices. In just three minutes, the method can produce a 10 × 10-cm smart textile patch that is waterproof, stretchable, and readily integrated with energy-harvesting technologies.

The method enables graphene supercapacitors — long-lasting energy storage devices that are easily combined with solar or other sources of power — to be laser-printed directly onto textiles. In a proof-of-concept, researchers connected the supercapacitor with a solar cell, delivering an efficient, washable, and self-powering smart fabric.

The graphene-based supercapacitor is fully washable and can store the energy needed to power an intelligent garment — and it can be made in minutes at large scale. The method also could enable faster roll-to-roll fabrication with the use of advanced laser printing based on multifocal fabrication and machine learning techniques.

For more information, contact Gosia Kaszubska at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; +61 417 510 735.


Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the March, 2021 issue of Tech Briefs Magazine.

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