E-textiles have progressed to e-fibers. The next means of incorporating functional elements may be in process, give the research into a new polymer that’s activated by UV light. As reported on newatlas.com, a team at MIT started by developing a photosensitive thiol-epoxy/thiol-ene polymer. When the material is exposed to ultraviolet light, its molecules crosslink with one another to form a network that’s impermeable to common solvents.
The polymer was used to coat a conductive filament, which made an insulated fiber with a conductive core. Opaque masks were placed along the length of the fiber, after which it was exposed to UV light, so that some parts were exposed to the light and others were protected. When the fiber was subsequently treated with acetone solvent, the polymer only dissolved off the sections that had been shielded from the light.
The researchers suggest that the technology could be used to manufacture smart fabric fibers with electrodes or other micro-devices placed in predetermined patterns along their length.
The research has been published in the journal ACS Central Science.