Here’s a development that could point the way toward the integration of textiles in electronic design: an international team of researchers have developed transistors made from cotton fibers that could allow sensor or processors to be incorporated directly into fibers and fabric. That’s right, it may soon be difficult to distinguish a design engineer from a fashion designer.
In order to make cotton conductive, the researchers coated the strands with gold nanoparticles, then added a thin layer of a conductive polymer called PEDOT. This increased conductivity approximately 1,000 times while leaving the fibers flexible.
If you think about how many fibers you have in your T-shirt, and how many interconnections you have between the weft and the warp of the fabric, you could get pretty decent computing power.
— Juan Hinestroza, director of the Textiles Nanotechnology Laboratory, Cornell.