James King from Zwick/Roell visited last week to teach the Advanced Textile Research Group more about use of our tensile tester. That’s the machine on the right in the photo, set up to pull on a long, thin sample until it breaks. This machine pulls or compresses materials to find their durability. We are creating tests for electronic textiles to ensure that these can survive knitting and weaving processes, then repeated wearing, washing and drying.
This week the group are wishing Dr Ekael Mbise happy travels as he leaves the Advanced Textile Research Group. Ekael’s work in Nottingham involved building a machine with adjacent hot and cold chambers so that he could assess moisture flow through fabrics placed between the chambers. He seems to be taking his research to extremes by himself travelling from the cold Nottingham winter to the heat of Tanzania. His research gave a way of assessing the best fabric designs for use during outdoor activities in cold weather. Ekael is second from right in the photo, enjoying a ‘Goodbye to Nottingham’ meal.
The latest Star Wars film was eschewed in favour of videos of an LED switching on and off and an electronic yarn being see-sawed to destruction when the Advanced Textile Research Group met with their partner team from the University of Southampton last week. The two groups work together on the Functional Electronic Textiles project, finding methods of manufacturing electronic textiles. This includes testing electronic yarns to destruction. The photo shows the yellow, cushioned jaws of a tensile tester that is used to help find out if electronic yarns are sufficiently strong to survive being made up into textiles and then being worn.
Here are three members of the Advanced Textile Research Group who have had recent PhD successes. On the left is Dr Ekael Mbise who has just conducted a successful defence of his thesis on ‘The Development of a Quick Dry Fabric for Outdoor Garments’. The thesis explains Ekael’s research on development of an active fabric to keep the wearer drier when sweating occurs. The technology works through control of the hydrostatic pressure difference through application of heat to one side of an inner, knitted, spacer fabric. This leads to the inner side of the fabric being kept as dry as possible.
Dr Dorothy Hardy is in the centre of the group in the photo. She recently graduated from Heriot-Watt University after completion of her thesis entitled ‘Integrating Crystalline-Silicon Photovoltaic Cells into Decorative Glazing’. This research found ways of fitting solar cells into decorative windows to create a modern version of stained glass that generates electrical power. This involved both development of artistic designs and finding methods of incorporating brightly-coloured, fluorescent dyes into the encapsulant ‘glue’ that holds solar cells in place between sheets of glass. This experience in mixing artistic and scientific research is now being carried forward into Dorothy’s work to test electronic yarns and then integrate them into functional textiles that will appeal to wearers.
Anura Rathnayake is on the right of the photo. His thesis on ‘Development of the Core Technology for the Creation of Electronically-Active Smart Yarn’ was recently submitted. The aim of this work was the development of the core technology for embedding functional semiconductor devices within the fibres of a yarn, in order to create electronically-active yarns. These yarns could then be processed via the conventional textile manufacturing techniques into smart fabrics and garments. These electronically-active yarns will be the building blocks of the next generation of wearable electronics.
The Advanced Textile Research Group exhibited prototypes, had a tour of labs, and discussed product development at the ‘Size Matters: Exploring the Future of Nano Science’ event, at Nottingham Trent University Clifton Campus on 29th September 2015. The event was organised by LATI: http://lati.org.uk/author/latiadmin/
‘In 2015, LATi and Nottingham Trent University formed a collaborative partnership designed to encourage collaboration between LATi members and NTU staff, students and business partners.’ http://lati.org.uk/page/2/
The presentations included one from Richard Price of Pragmatic, seen here second from left in the photo on the right. Pragmatic produce flexible integrated circuits that can overcome cost and size limitations of conventional silicon chips:
Innovations in electronic textiles are guided by the requirements of industry. This ensures that developments can happen in a wide range of areas such as clothing for athletes and development of wound dressings. There are also many possibilities for the use of electronic textiles within vehicle interiors. When the Advanced Textile Research Group met with industry partners and colleagues from the University of Southampton, safety overshoes were on hand, ready for a tour of the shop floor at IAC, Elmdon Trading Estate, where the process of assembling automotive parts was explained:
Dorothy Hardy gave a presentation on the work carried out by the Advanced Textile Research Group, highlighting the challenges and progress in incorporation of electronic components within yarn.
A delegation from Stoll AG and Co. KG, Reutlingen, Germany recently visited the Advanced Textile Research Group, in order to understand how electronic yarn technology can be integrated into knitted garments.
Anura Rathnayake of the Advanced Textile research Group presenting his PhD work on electronic textiles at ISWC 2015, Osaka Japan:
Anura took a garment containing miniature LED’s within yarns and a shirt with a hidden RFID tag.
The Advanced Textile Research Group has recently expanded and moved into a new lab. On 1st September 2015 the group hosted a visit from Professor Edward Peck, the Nottingham Trent University Vice Chancellor, and Julie Pinches, the Acting Dean of School of Art & Design. Here they are discussing future plans and looking at a demonstration heated glove.
Dr. Dorothy Hardy has joined the advanced textiles research group to work on a project finding novel manufacturing methods for functional, electronic textiles, funded by the EPSRC. Dorothy specialises in multidisciplinary work combining engineering and art.
She has just completed a PhD that investigated methods of improving the aesthetics of crystalline-silicon photovoltaic cells in decorative glazing. Her work included combination of traditional, glass-painting techniques with use of fluorescent dyes in glass panels that incorporated solar cells. Public engagement work such as co-organisation of a workshop and exhibition about creative use of photovoltaic cells won Dorothy the 2013 student category of the Heriot-Watt Principal’s prize for public engagement. More details of this can be found by scrolling down the following link:
Dorothy is relishing the challenge of developing electronic yarns to withstand repeated wearing, washing and drying.