Researchers at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, developed a new smart fabric that can be activated by both heat and electricity, making it the first ever to respond to two different stimuli.
The fabric design is a product of the union of soft and hard materials, featuring a combination of highly engineered polymer composites and stainless steel in a woven structure and the researchers created a device similar to a traditional loom to weave it. The process is said to be extremely versatile, enabling design freedom and macro-scale control of the fabric’s properties.
The idea of these intelligent materials was first bred and born from biomimicry science. Through the ability to sense and react to environmental stimuli such as temperature, this is proof of concept that our new material can interact with the environment to monitor ecosystems without damaging them.Dr Milad Kamkar, a chemical engineering professor and director of the Multi-scale Materials Design (MMD) Centre at Waterloo
A wide variety of potential applications
The fabric can be activated by a lower voltage of electricity than previous systems, making it more energy efficient and cost effective. In addition, lower voltage allows integration into smaller, more portable devices, making it suitable for use in biomedical devices and environment sensors.
The fabric paves the way for a wide variety of potential applications, ranging from clothing that warms up on a walk from the car to the office in winter, to vehicle bumpers that return to their original shape after a collision.