Tag Archives: University of Manchester

Job posting: G20 Water Technologies is looking for a PhD level scientist to join a fast-growing and well-funded start-up company developing graphene based water treatment.

This is the June 6, 2017 G20 Water Technologies notice I received via email,

Senior Application Scientist Vacancy

This is an opportunity for a PhD level scientist to join a fast growing
and well funded start up developing graphene based water treatment.

The company has developed coatings for existing filter materials with
applications in oil/water separation, waste water treatment, dehydration
of organic liquids and desalination, with addressable markets in excess
of £2.8Bn.

We have a vacancy for an exceptional individual with an in depth
understanding of membranes and 2D materials to join our team as a Senior
Application Scientist. This post carries a high degree of responsibility
to deliver results, a salary to match, will report directly to the
company’s CEO and will be based with the Water@Leeds interdisciplinary
group in the University of Leeds.

Key responsibilities include:

* Managing the company’s internal and external research and
development activities with both academic and commercial partners;
* To further develop graphene oxide (GO)-based coatings/membranes for
highly efficient water purification. This will involve working closely
with materials suppliers and end users to understand and deliver the
required performance;
* Developing test methodologies to quantify membrane performance
* Supporting current and future government funded grant work;
* Further developing and strengthening G2O’s IP portfolio.

The successful candidate will be expected to have:

* The ability to design, manage and deliver technology R&D projects;
* Experience in working with academic institutions in an industrial
environment;
* An in depth knowledge of formulation of 2D material dispersions;
* A PhD or other suitable academic qualifications to be accepted as a
Visiting Fellow by the company’s academic partners.

Before getting to the contact information, a few words about one of the company’s principles, Tim Harper, G20 Chief Executive Officer. I’ve never met him in person but have known him online for many years (we’ve exchanged emails and tweets). He has been an active member of the ‘nano’ blogosphere and social media environment for many years. He has run his own consultation company (on emerging technologies), Cientifica (About Us) since 1997, and other companies. He’s been involved with the World Economic Forum and has consulted internationally for governments and other entities. That said, there are no guarantees with start-up companies and you do need to perform your own due diligence as I’m sure Tim Harper would counsel you. One other piece of information before you dash off, the company’s headquarters are in Manchester where its university boasts it’s the ‘home of graphene’ and houses the National Graphene Institute.

Here are a few places you might want to check:

G20 website

About G20 webpage

Contact us (for more details about the position)

Good Luck!

Desalination of sea water with a graphene sieve

The proposed use of graphene membranes for water purification and remediation isn’t new (I have a July 20, 2015 posting which covers some of this field of interest). However, there’s this April 3, 2017 news item on ScienceDaily announcing some new work on graphene and desalination at the University of Manchester,

Graphene-oxide membranes have attracted considerable attention as promising candidates for new filtration technologies. Now the much sought-after development of making membranes capable of sieving common salts has been achieved.

New research demonstrates the real-world potential of providing clean drinking water for millions of people who struggle to access adequate clean water sources.

The new findings from a group of scientists at The University of Manchester were published today in the journal Nature Nanotechnology. Previously graphene-oxide membranes have shown exciting potential for gas separation and water filtration.

An April 3, 2017 University of Manchester press release (also on EurekAlert), which originated the news item, expands on the theme,

Graphene-oxide membranes developed at the National Graphene Institute have already demonstrated the potential of filtering out small nanoparticles, organic molecules, and even large salts. Until now, however, they couldn’t be used for sieving common salts used in desalination technologies, which require even smaller sieves.

Previous research at The University of Manchester found that if immersed in water, graphene-oxide membranes become slightly swollen and smaller salts flow through the membrane along with water, but larger ions or molecules are blocked.

The Manchester-based group have now further developed these graphene membranes and found a strategy to avoid the swelling of the membrane when exposed to water. The pore size in the membrane can be precisely controlled which can sieve common salts out of salty water and make it safe to drink.

As the effects of climate change continue to reduce modern city’s water supplies, wealthy modern countries are also investing in desalination technologies. Following the severe floods in California major wealthy cities are also looking increasingly to alternative water solutions.

When the common salts are dissolved in water, they always form a ‘shell’ of water molecules around the salts molecules. This allows the tiny capillaries of the graphene-oxide membranes to block the salt from flowing along with the water. Water molecules are able to pass through the membrane barrier and flow anomalously fast which is ideal for application of these membranes for desalination.

Professor Rahul Nair, at The University of Manchester said: “Realisation of scalable membranes with uniform pore size down to atomic scale is a significant step forward and will open new possibilities for improving the efficiency of desalination technology.

“This is the first clear-cut experiment in this regime. We also demonstrate that there are realistic possibilities to scale up the described approach and mass produce graphene-based membranes with required sieve sizes.”

Mr. Jijo Abraham and Dr. Vasu Siddeswara Kalangi were the joint-lead authors on the research paper: “The developed membranes are not only useful for desalination, but the atomic scale tunability of the pore size also opens new opportunity to fabricate membranes with on-demand filtration capable of filtering out ions according to their sizes.” said Mr. Abraham.

By 2025 the UN expects that 14% of the world’s population will encounter water scarcity. This technology has the potential to revolutionise water filtration across the world, in particular in countries which cannot afford large scale desalination plants.

It is hoped that graphene-oxide membrane systems can be built on smaller scales making this technology accessible to countries which do not have the financial infrastructure to fund large plants without compromising the yield of fresh water produced.

Courtesy of the University of Manchester

I believe the previous image is an artist’s rendering of the graphene-oxide membrane trapping salt as water moves through it.

Here’s a link to and a citation for the paper,

Tunable sieving of ions using graphene oxide membranes by Jijo Abraham, Kalangi S. Vasu, Christopher D. Williams, Kalon Gopinadhan, Yang Su, Christie T. Cherian, James Dix, Eric Prestat, Sarah J. Haigh, Irina V. Grigorieva, Paola Carbone, Andre K. Geim, & Rahul R. Nair. Nature Nanotechnology (2017) doi:10.1038/nnano.2017.21 Published online 03 April 2017

This paper is open access provided you sign up (or have already signed up) for a free registration with nature.com.

Graphene and silly putty combined to create ultra sensitive sensors

One of my favourite kinds of science story is the one where scientists turn to a children’s toy for their research. In this case, it’s silly putty. Before launching into the science part of this story, here’s more about silly putty from its Wikipedia entry (Note: A ll links have been removed),

During World War II, Japan invaded rubber-producing countries as they expanded their sphere of influence in the Pacific Rim. Rubber was vital for the production of rafts, tires, vehicle and aircraft parts, gas masks, and boots. In the U.S., all rubber products were rationed; citizens were encouraged to make their rubber products last until the end of the war and to donate spare tires, boots, and coats. Meanwhile, the government funded research into synthetic rubber compounds to attempt to solve this shortage.[10]

Credit for the invention of Silly Putty is disputed[11] and has been attributed variously to Earl Warrick,[12] of the then newly formed Dow Corning; Harvey Chin; and James Wright, a Scottish-born inventor working for General Electric in New Haven, Connecticut.[13] Throughout his life, Warrick insisted that he and his colleague, Rob Roy McGregor, received the patent for Silly Putty before Wright did; but Crayola’s history of Silly Putty states that Wright first invented it in 1943.[10][14][15] Both researchers independently discovered that reacting boric acid with silicone oil would produce a gooey, bouncy material with several unique properties. The non-toxic putty would bounce when dropped, could stretch farther than regular rubber, would not go moldy, and had a very high melting temperature. However, the substance did not have all the properties needed to replace rubber.[1]

In 1949 toy store owner Ruth Fallgatter came across the putty. She contacted marketing consultant Peter C.L. Hodgson (1912-1976).[16] The two decided to market the bouncing putty by selling it in a clear case. Although it sold well, Fallgatter did not pursue it further. However, Hodgson saw its potential.[1][3]

Already US$12,000 in debt, Hodgson borrowed US$147 to buy a batch of the putty to pack 1 oz (28 g) portions into plastic eggs for US$1, calling it Silly Putty. Initially, sales were poor, but after a New Yorker article mentioned it, Hodgson sold over 250,000 eggs of silly putty in three days.[3] However, Hodgson was almost put out of business in 1951 by the Korean War. Silicone, the main ingredient in silly putty, was put on ration, harming his business. A year later the restriction on silicone was lifted and the production of Silly Putty resumed.[17][9] Initially, it was primarily targeted towards adults. However, by 1955 the majority of its customers were aged 6 to 12. In 1957, Hodgson produced the first televised commercial for Silly Putty, which aired during the Howdy Doody Show.[18]

In 1961 Silly Putty went worldwide, becoming a hit in the Soviet Union and Europe. In 1968 it was taken into lunar orbit by the Apollo 8 astronauts.[17]

Peter Hodgson died in 1976. A year later, Binney & Smith, the makers of Crayola products, acquired the rights to Silly Putty. As of 2005, annual Silly Putty sales exceeded six million eggs.[19]

Silly Putty was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame on May 28, 2001. [20]

I had no idea silly putty had its origins in World War II era research. At any rate, it’s made its way back to the research lab to be united with graphene according to a Dec. 8, 2016 news item  on Nanowerk,

Researchers in AMBER, the Science Foundation Ireland-funded materials science research centre, hosted in Trinity College Dublin, have used graphene to make the novelty children’s material silly putty® (polysilicone) conduct electricity, creating extremely sensitive sensors. This world first research, led by Professor Jonathan Coleman from TCD and in collaboration with Prof Robert Young of the University of Manchester, potentially offers exciting possibilities for applications in new, inexpensive devices and diagnostics in medicine and other sectors.

A Dec. 9, 2016 Trinity College Dublin press release (also on EurekAlert), which originated the news item, describes their ‘G-putty’ in more detail,

Prof Coleman, Investigator in AMBER and Trinity’s School of Physics along with postdoctoral researcher Conor Boland, discovered that the electrical resistance of putty infused with graphene (“G-putty”) was extremely sensitive to the slightest deformation or impact. They mounted the G-putty onto the chest and neck of human subjects and used it to measure breathing, pulse and even blood pressure. It showed unprecedented sensitivity as a sensor for strain and pressure, hundreds of times more sensitive than normal sensors. The G-putty also works as a very sensitive impact sensor, able to detect the footsteps of small spiders. It is believed that this material will find applications in a range of medical devices.

Prof Coleman said, “What we are excited about is the unexpected behaviour we found when we added graphene to the polymer, a cross-linked polysilicone. This material as well known as the children’s toy silly putty. It is different from familiar materials in that it flows like a viscous liquid when deformed slowly but bounces like an elastic solid when thrown against a surface. When we added the graphene to the silly putty, it caused it to conduct electricity, but in a very unusual way. The electrical resistance of the G-putty was very sensitive to deformation with the resistance increasing sharply on even the slightest strain or impact. Unusually, the resistance slowly returned close to its original value as the putty self-healed over time.”

He continued, “While a common application has been to add graphene to plastics in order to improve the electrical, mechanical, thermal or barrier properties, the resultant composites have generally performed as expected without any great surprises. The behaviour we found with G-putty has not been found in any other composite material. This unique discovery will open up major possibilities in sensor manufacturing worldwide.”

Dexter Johnson in a Dec. 14, 2016 posting on his Nanoclast blog (on the IEEE [Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers]) puts this research into context,

For all the talk and research that has gone into exploiting graphene’s pliant properties for use in wearable and flexible electronics, most of the polymer composites it has been mixed with to date have been on the hard and inflexible side.

It took a team of researchers in Ireland to combine graphene with the children’s toy Silly Putty to set the nanomaterial community ablaze with excitement. The combination makes a new composite that promises to make a super-sensitive strain sensor with potential medical diagnostic applications.

“Ablaze with excitement,” eh? As Dexter rarely slips into hyperbole, this must be a big deal.

The researchers have made this video available,

For the very interested, here’s a link to and a citation for the paper,

Sensitive electromechanical sensors using viscoelastic graphene-polymer nanocomposites by Conor S. Boland, Umar Khan, Gavin Ryan, Sebastian Barwich, Romina Charifou, Andrew Harvey, Claudia Backes, Zheling Li, Mauro S. Ferreira, Matthias E. Möbius, Robert J. Young, Jonathan N. Coleman. Science  09 Dec 2016: Vol. 354, Issue 6317, pp. 1257-1260 DOI: 10.1126/science.aag2879

This paper is behind a paywall.

Making the impossible possible: on demand and by design, atomic scale pipes

This research on pipes from the University of Manchester will probably never finds its way into plumbing practices but, apparently, is of great interest in fundamental research. From a Sept. 7, 2016 news item on phys.org,

Materials containing tiny capillaries and cavities are widely used in filtration, separation and many other technologies, without which our modern lifestyle would be impossible. Those materials are usually found by luck or accident rather than design. It has been impossible to create artificial capillaries with atomic-scale precision.

Now a Manchester group led by postdoctoral researcher Radha Boya and Nobel laureate Andre Geim show how to make the impossible possible, as reported in Nature.

A Sept. 7, 2016 University of Manchester press release (also on EurekAlert), which originated the news item,  provides a description of the technology,

The new technology is elegant, adaptable and strikingly simple. In fact, it is a kind of antipode of the famous material graphene. When making graphene, people often take a piece of graphite and use Scotch tape to extract a single atomic plane of carbon atoms, graphene. The remaining graphite is discarded.

In this new research, Manchester scientists similarly extracted a strip of graphene from graphite, but discarded the graphene and focused on what was left: an ultra-thin cavity within the graphite crystal.

Such atomic scale cavities can be made from various materials to achieve not only a desired size but also to choose properties of capillary walls. They can be atomically smooth or rough, hydrophilic or hydrophobic, insulating or conductive, electrically charged or neutral; the list goes on.

The voids can be made as cavities (to confine various substances) or open-ended tunnels (to transport different gases and liquids), which is of huge interest for fundamental research and many applications. It is limited only by imagination what such narrow tunnels with designer properties can potentially do for us.

Properties of materials at this truly atomic scale are expected to be quite different from those we are familiar with in our macroscopic world. To demonstrate that this is the case of their atomic-scale voids, the Manchester group tested how water runs through those ultra-narrow pipes.

To everyone’s surprise, they found water to flow with little friction and at high speed, as if the channels were many thousands times wider than they actually are.

Radha Boya commented ‘This is an entirely new type of nanoscale systems. Such capillaries were never imagined, even in theory. No one thought that this degree of accuracy in design could be possible. New filtration, desalination, gas separation technologies are kind of obvious directions but there are so many others to explore’.

Sir Andre added ‘Making something useful out of an empty space is certainly cute. Finding that this space offers so much of new science is flabbergasting. Even with hindsight, I did not expect the idea to work so well. There are myriads of possibilities for research and development, which now need to be looked at. We are stunned by the choice.’

Here’s a link to and a citation for the paper,

Molecular transport through capillaries made with atomic-scale precision by B. Radha, A. Esfandiar, F. C. Wang, A. P. Rooney, K. Gopinadhan, A. Keerthi, A. Mishchenko, A. Janardanan, P. Blake, L. Fumagalli, M. Lozada-Hidalgo, S. Garaj, S. J. Haigh, I. V. Grigorieva, H. A. Wu, & A. K. Geim. Nature (2016)  doi:10.1038/nature19363 Published online 07 September 2016

This paper is behind a paywall.

Cientifica’s latest smart textiles and wearable electronics report

After publishing a report on wearable technology in May 2016 (see my June 2, 2016 posting), Cientifica has published another wearable technology report, this one is titled, Smart Textiles and Wearables: Markets, Applications and Technologies. Here’s more about the latest report from the report order page,

“Smart Textiles and Wearables: Markets, Applications and Technologies” examines the markets for textile based wearable technologies, the companies producing them and the enabling technologies. This is creating a 4th industrial revolution for the textiles and fashion industry worth over $130 billion by 2025.

Advances in fields such as nanotechnology, organic electronics (also known as plastic electronics) and conducting polymers are creating a range of textile–based technologies with the ability to sense and react to the world around them.  This includes monitoring biometric data such as heart rate, the environmental factors such as temperature and The presence of toxic gases producing real time feedback in the form of electrical stimuli, haptic feedback or changes in color.

The report identifies three distinct generations of textile wearable technologies.

First generation is where a sensor is attached to apparel and is the approach currently taken by major sportswear brands such as Adidas, Nike and Under Armour
Second generation products embed the sensor in the garment as demonstrated by products from Samsung, Alphabet, Ralph Lauren and Flex.
In third generation wearables the garment is the sensor and a growing number of companies including AdvanPro, Tamicare and BeBop sensors are making rapid progress in creating pressure, strain and temperature sensors.

Third generation wearables represent a significant opportunity for new and established textile companies to add significant value without having to directly compete with Apple, Samsung and Intel.

The report predicts that the key growth areas will be initially sports and wellbeing

followed by medical applications for patient monitoring. Technical textiles, fashion and entertainment will also be significant applications with the total market expected to rise to over $130 billion by 2025 with triple digit compound annual growth rates across many applications.

The rise of textile wearables also represents a significant opportunity for manufacturers of the advanced materials used in their manufacture. Toray, Panasonic, Covestro, DuPont and Toyobo are already suppling the necessary materials, while researchers are creating sensing and energy storage technologies, from flexible batteries to graphene supercapacitors which will power tomorrows wearables. The report details the latest advances and their applications.

This report is based on an extensive research study of the wearables and smart textile markets backed with over a decade of experience in identifying, predicting and sizing markets for nanotechnologies and smart textiles. Detailed market figures are given from 2016-2025, along with an analysis of the key opportunities, and illustrated with 139 figures and 6 tables.

The September 2016 report is organized differently and has a somewhat different focus from the report published in May 2016. Not having read either report, I’m guessing that while there might be a little repetition, you might better consider them to be companion volumes.

Here’s more from the September 2016 report’s table of contents which you can download from the order page (Note: The formatting has been changed),

SMART TEXTILES AND WEARABLES:
MARKETS, APPLICATIONS AND
TECHNOLOGIES

Contents  1
List of Tables  4
List of Figures  4
Introduction  8
How to Use This Report  8
Wearable Technologies and the 4Th Industrial Revolution  9
The Evolution of Wearable Technologies  10
Defining Smart Textiles  15
Factors Affecting The Adoption of Smart Textiles for Wearables  18
Cost  18
Accuracy  18
On Shoring  19
Power management  19
Security and Privacy  20
Markets  21
Total Market Growth and CAGR  21
Market Growth By Application  21
Adding Value To Textiles Through Technology  27
How Nanomaterials Add Functionality and Value  31
Business Models  33
Applications  35
Sports and Wellbeing  35
1st Generation Technologies  35
Under Armour Healthbox Wearables  35
Adidas MiCoach  36
Sensoria  36
EMPA’s Long Term Research  39
2nd Generation Technologies  39
Google’s Project Jacquard  39
Samsung Creative Lab  43
Microsoft Collaborations  44
Intel Systems on a Chip  44
Flex (Formerly Flextronics) and MAS Holdings  45
Jiobit  46
Asensei Personal Trainer  47
OmSignal Smart Clothing  48
Ralph Lauren PoloTech  49
Hexoskin Performance Management  50
Jabil Circuit Textile Heart Monitoring  51
Stretch Sense Sensors  52
NTT Data and Toray  54
Goldwin Inc. and DoCoMo  55
SupaSpot Inc Smart Sensors  55
Wearable Experiments and Brand Marketing  56
Wearable Life Sciences Antelope  57
Textronics NuMetrex  59
3rd Generation Technologies  60
AdvanPro Pressure Sensing Shoes  60
Tamicare 3D printed Wearables with Integrated Sensors  62
AiQ Smart Clothing Stainless Steel Yarns  64
Flex Printed Inks And Conductive Yarns  66
Sensing Tech Conductive Inks  67
EHO Textiles Body Motion Monitoring  68
Bebop Sensors Washable E-Ink Sensors  70
Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research Piezolectric Polymer
Sensors  71
CLIM8 GEAR Heated Textiles  74
VTT Smart Clothing Human Thermal Model  74
ATTACH (Adaptive Textiles Technology with Active Cooling and Heating) 76
Energy Storage and Generation  78
Intelligent Textiles Military Uniforms  78
BAE Systems Broadsword Spine  79
Stretchable Batteries  80
LG Chem Cable Batteries  81
Supercapacitors  83
Swinburne Graphene Supercapacitors  83
MIT Niobium Nanowire Supercapacitors  83
Energy Harvesting  86
Kinetic  86
StretchSense Energy Harvesting Kit  86
NASA Environmental Sensing Fibers  86
Solar  87
Powertextiles  88
Sphelar Power Corp Solar Textiles  88
Ohmatex and Powerweave  89
Fashion  89
1st Generation Technologies  92
Cute Circuit LED Couture  92
MAKEFASHION LED Couture  94
2nd Generation Technologies  94
Covestro Luminous Clothing  94
3rd Generation Technologies  96
The Unseen Temperature Sensitive Dyes  96
Entertainment  98
Wearable Experiments Marketing  98
Key Technologies 100
Circuitry  100
Conductive Inks for Fabrics  100
Conductive Ink For Printing On Stretchable Fabrics  100
Creative Materials Conductive Inks And Adhesives  100
Dupont Stretchable Electronic Inks  101
Aluminium Inks From Alink Co  101
Conductive Fibres  102
Circuitex Silver Coated Nylon  102
Textronics Yarns and Fibres  102
Novonic Elastic Conductive Yarn  103
Copper Coated Polyacrylonitrile (PAN) Fibres  103
Printed electronics  105
Covestro TPU Films for Flexible Circuits  105
Sensors  107
Electrical  107
Hitoe  107
Cocomi  108
Panasonic Polymer Resin  109
Cardiac Monitoring  110
Mechanical  113
Strain  113
Textile-Based Weft Knitted Strain Sensors  113
Chain Mail Fabric for Smart Textiles  113
Nano-Treatment for Conductive Fiber/Sensors 115
Piezoceramic materials  116
Graphene-Based Woven Fabric  117
Pressure Sensing  117
LG Innotek Flexible Textile Pressure Sensors  117
Hong Kong Polytechnic University Pressure Sensing Fibers  119
Conductive Polymer Composite Coatings  122
Printed Textile Sensors To Track Movement  125
Environment  127
Photochromic Textiles  127
Temperature  127
Sefar PowerSens  127
Gasses & Chemicals  127
Textile Gas Sensors  127
Energy  130
Storage  130
Graphene Supercapacitors  130
Niobium Nanowire Supercapacitors  130
Stretchy supercapacitors  132
Energy Generation  133
StretchSense Energy Harvesting Kit  133
Piezoelectric Or Thermoelectric Coated Fibres  134
Optical  137
Light Emitting  137
University of Manchester Electroluminescent Inks and Yarns 137
Polyera Wove  138
Companies Mentioned  141
List of Tables
Table 1 CAGR by application  22
Table 2 Value of market by application 2016-25 (millions USD)  24
Table 3 % market share by application  26
Table 4 CAGR 2016-25 by application  26
Table 5 Technology-Enabled Market Growth in Textile by Sector (2016-22) 28
Table 6 Value of nanomaterials by sector 2016-22 ($ Millions)  33
List of Figures
Figure 1 The 4th Industrial Revolution (World Economic Forum)  9
Figure 2 Block Diagram of typical MEMS digital output motion sensor: ultra
low-power high performance 3-axis “femto” accelerometer used in
fitness tracking devices.  11
Figure 3 Interior of Fitbit Flex device (from iFixit)  11
Figure 4 Internal layout of Fitbit Flex. Red is the main CPU, orange is the
BTLE chip, blue is a charger, yellow is the accelerometer (from iFixit)  11
Figure 5 Intel’s Curie processor stretches the definition of ‘wearable’  12
Figure 6 Typical Textile Based Wearable System Components  13
Figure 7 The Chromat Aeros Sports Bra “powered by Intel, inspired by wind, air and flight.”  14
Figure 8 The Evolution of Smart textiles  15
Figure 9 Goldwin’s C2fit IN-pulse sportswear using Toray’s Hitoe  16
Figure 10 Sensoglove reads grip pressure for golfers  16
Figure 11 Textile Based Wearables Growth 2016-25(USD Millions)  21
Figure 12 Total market for textile based wearables 2016-25 (USD Millions)  22
Figure 13 Health and Sports Market Size 2016-20 (USD Millions)  23
Figure 14 Health and Sports Market Size 2016-25 (USD Millions)  23
Figure 15 Critical steps for obtaining FDA medical device approval  25
Figure 16 Market split between wellbeing and medical 2016-25  26
Figure 17 Current World Textile Market by Sector (2016)  27
Figure 18 The Global Textile Market By Sector ($ Millions)  27
Figure 19 Compound Annual Growth Rates (CAGR) by Sector (2016-25)  28
Figure 20 The Global Textile Market in 2022  29
Figure 21 The Global Textile Market in 2025  30
Figure 22 Textile Market Evolution (2012-2025)  30
Figure 23 Total Value of Nanomaterials in Textiles 2012-2022 ($ Millions)  31
Figure 24 Value of Nanomaterials in Textiles by Sector 2016-2025 ($ Millions) 32
Figure 25 Adidas miCoach Connect Heart Rate Monitor  36
Figure 26 Sensoria’s Hear[t] Rate Monitoring Garments . 37
Figure 27 Flexible components used in Google’s Project Jacquard  40
Figure 28 Google and Levi’s Smart Jacket  41
Figure 29 Embedded electronics Google’s Project Jacquard  42
Figure 30 Samsung’s WELT ‘smart’ belt  43
Figure 31 Samsung Body Compass at CES16  44
Figure 32 Lumo Run washable motion sensor  45
Figure 33 OMSignal’s Smart Bra  49
Figure 34 PoloTech Shirt from Ralph Lauren  50
Figure 35 Hexoskin Data Acquisition and Processing  51
Figure 36 Peak+™ Hear[t] Rate Monitoring Garment  52
Figure 37 StretchSense CEO Ben O’Brien, with a fabric stretch sensor  53
Figure 38 C3fit Pulse from Goldwin Inc  55
Figure 39 The Antelope Tank-Top  58
Figure 40 Sportswear with integrated sensors from Textronix  60
Figure 41 AdvanPro’s pressure sensing insoles  61
Figure 42 AdvanPro’s pressure sensing textile  62
Figure 43 Tamicare 3D Printing Sensors and Apparel  63
Figure 44 Smart clothing using stainless steel yarns and textile sensors from AiQ  65
Figure 45 EHO Smart Sock  69
Figure 46 BeBop Smart Car Seat Sensor  71
Figure 47 Non-transparent printed sensors from Fraunhofer ISC  73
Figure 48 Clim8 Intelligent Heat Regulating Shirt  74
Figure 49 Temperature regulating smart fabric printed at UC San Diego  76
Figure 50 Intelligent Textiles Ltd smart uniform  79
Figure 51 BAE Systems Broadsword Spine  80
Figure 52 LG Chem cable-shaped lithium-ion battery powers an LED display even when twisted and strained  81
Figure 53 Supercapacitor yarn made of niobium nanowires  84
Figure 54 Sphelar Textile  89
Figure 55 Sphelar Textile Solar Cells  89
Figure 56 Katy Perry wears Cute Circuit in 2010  91
Figure 57 Cute Circuit K Dress  93
Figure 58 MAKEFASHION runway at the Brother’s “Back to Business” conference, Nashville 2016  94
Figure 59 Covestro material with LEDs are positioned on formable films made from thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU).  95
Figure 60 Unseen headpiece, made of 4000 conductive Swarovski stones, changes color to correspond with localized brain activity  96
Figure 61 Eighthsense a coded couture piece.  97
Figure 62 Durex Fundawear  98
Figure 63 Printed fabric sensors from the University of Tokyo  100
Figure 64 Tony Kanaan’s shirt with electrically conductive nano-fibers  107
Figure 65 Panasonic stretchable resin technology  109
Figure 66 Nanoflex moniroring system  111
Figure 67 Knitted strain sensors  113
Figure 68 Chain Mail Fabric for Smart Textiles  114
Figure 69 Electroplated Fabric  115
Figure 70 LG Innotek flexible textile pressure sensors  118
Figure 71 Smart Footwear installed with fabric sensors. (Credit: Image courtesy of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University)  120
Figure 72 SOFTCEPTOR™ textile strain sensors  122
Figure 73 conductive polymer composite coating for pressure sensing  123
Figure 74 Fraunhofer ISC_ printed sensor  125
Figure 75 The graphene-coated yarn sensor. (Image: ETRI)  128
Figure 76 Supercapacitor yarn made of niobium nanowires  131
Figure 77 StretchSense Energy Harvesting Kit  134
Figure 78 Energy harvesting textiles at the University of Southampton  135
Figure 79 Polyera Wove Flexible Screen  139

If you compare that with the table of contents for the May 2016 report in my June 2, 2016 posting, you can see the difference.

Here’s one last tidbit, a Sept. 15, 2016 news item on phys.org highlights another wearable technology report,

Wearable tech, which was seeing sizzling sales growth a year ago [2015], is cooling this year amid consumer hesitation over new devices, a survey showed Thursday [Sept. 15, 2016].

The research firm IDC said it expects global sales of wearables to grow some 29.4 percent to some 103 million units in 2016.

That follows 171 percent growth in 2015, fueled by the launch of the Apple Watch and a variety of fitness bands.

“It is increasingly becoming more obvious that consumers are not willing to deal with technical pain points that have to date been associated with many wearable devices,” said IDC analyst Ryan Reith.

So-called basic wearables—including fitness bands and other devices that do not run third party applications—will make up the lion’s share of the market with some 80.7 million units shipped this year, according to IDC.

According to IDC, it seems that the short term does not promise the explosive growth of the previous year but that new generations of wearable technology, according to both IDC and Cientifica, offer considerable promise for the market.

Creating quantum dots (artificial atoms) in graphene

An Aug. 22, 2016 news item on phys.org describes some recent work on artificial atoms and graphene from the Technical University of Vienna (Austria) and partners in Germany and the UK,

In a tiny quantum prison, electrons behave quite differently as compared to their counterparts in free space. They can only occupy discrete energy levels, much like the electrons in an atom – for this reason, such electron prisons are often called “artificial atoms”. Artificial atoms may also feature properties beyond those of conventional ones, with the potential for many applications for example in quantum computing. Such additional properties have now been shown for artificial atoms in the carbon material graphene. The results have been published in the journal Nano Letters, the project was a collaboration of scientists from TU Wien (Vienna, Austria), RWTH Aachen (Germany) and the University of Manchester (GB).

“Artificial atoms open up new, exciting possibilities, because we can directly tune their properties”, says Professor Joachim Burgdörfer (TU Wien, Vienna). In semiconductor materials such as gallium arsenide, trapping electrons in tiny confinements has already been shown to be possible. These structures are often referred to as “quantum dots”. Just like in an atom, where the electrons can only circle the nucleus on certain orbits, electrons in these quantum dots are forced into discrete quantum states.

Even more interesting possibilities are opened up by using graphene, a material consisting of a single layer of carbon atoms, which has attracted a lot of attention in the last few years. “In most materials, electrons may occupy two different quantum states at a given energy. The high symmetry of the graphene lattice allows for four different quantum states. This opens up new pathways for quantum information processing and storage” explains Florian Libisch from TU Wien. However, creating well-controlled artificial atoms in graphene turned out to be extremely challenging.

Florian Libisch, explaining the structure of graphene. Courtesy Technical University of Vienna

Florian Libisch, explaining the structure of graphene. Courtesy Technical University of Vienna

An Aug. 22, 2016 Technical University of Vienna press release (also on EurekAlert), which originated the news item, provides more detail,

There are different ways of creating artificial atoms: The simplest one is putting electrons into tiny flakes, cut out of a thin layer of the material. While this works for graphene, the symmetry of the material is broken by the edges of the flake which can never be perfectly smooth. Consequently, the special four-fold multiplicity of states in graphene is reduced to the conventional two-fold one.

Therefore, different ways had to be found: It is not necessary to use small graphene flakes to capture electrons. Using clever combinations of electrical and magnetic fields is a much better option. With the tip of a scanning tunnelling microscope, an electric field can be applied locally. That way, a tiny region is created within the graphene surface, in which low energy electrons can be trapped. At the same time, the electrons are forced into tiny circular orbits by applying a magnetic field. “If we would only use an electric field, quantum effects allow the electrons to quickly leave the trap” explains Libisch.

The artificial atoms were measured at the RWTH Aachen by Nils Freitag and Peter Nemes-Incze in the group of Professor Markus Morgenstern. Simulations and theoretical models were developed at TU Wien (Vienna) by Larisa Chizhova, Florian Libisch and Joachim Burgdörfer. The exceptionally clean graphene sample came from the team around Andre Geim and Kostya Novoselov from Manchester (GB) – these two researchers were awarded the Nobel Prize in 2010 for creating graphene sheets for the first time.

The new artificial atoms now open up new possibilities for many quantum technological experiments: “Four localized electron states with the same energy allow for switching between different quantum states to store information”, says Joachim Burgdörfer. The electrons can preserve arbitrary superpositions for a long time, ideal properties for quantum computers. In addition, the new method has the big advantage of scalability: it should be possible to fit many such artificial atoms on a small chip in order to use them for quantum information applications.

Here’s a link to and a citation for the paper,

Electrostatically Confined Monolayer Graphene Quantum Dots with Orbital and Valley Splittings by Nils M. Freitag, Larisa A. Chizhova, Peter Nemes-Incze, Colin R. Woods, Roman V. Gorbachev, Yang Cao, Andre K. Geim, Kostya S. Novoselov, Joachim Burgdörfer, Florian Libisch, and Markus Morgenstern. Nano Lett., Article ASAP DOI: 10.1021/acs.nanolett.6b02548 Publication Date (Web): July 28, 2016

Copyright © 2016 American Chemical Society

This paper is behind a paywall.

Dexter Johnson in an Aug. 23, 2016 post on his Nanoclast blog (on the IEEE [Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers] website) provides some additional insight into the world of quantum dots,

Quantum dots made from semiconductor materials, like silicon, are beginning to transform the display market. While it is their optoelectronic properties that are being leveraged in displays, the peculiar property of quantum dots that allows their electrons to be forced into discrete quantum states has long held out the promise of enabling quantum computing.

If you have time to read it, Dexter’s post features an email interview with Florian Libisch where they further discuss quantum dots and quantum computing.

Improving fossil-fueled cars’ efficiency with graphene-based ballistic rectifier

UK and Chinese researchers have a developed a technology to make fuel use more efficient in fossil-fueled cars (from a June 2, 2016 news item on phys.org),

A graphene-based electrical nano-device has been created which could substantially increase the energy efficiency of fossil fuel-powered cars.

The nano-device, known as a ‘ballistic rectifier’, is able to convert heat which would otherwise be wasted from the car exhaust and engine body into a useable electrical current.

Parts of car exhausts can reach temperatures of 600 degrees Celsius. The recovered energy can then be used to power additional automotive features such as air conditioning and power steering, or be stored in the car battery.

The nano-rectifier was built by a team at The University of Manchester led by Professor Aimin Song and Dr. Ernie Hill, with a team at Shandong University. The device utilises graphene’s phenomenally high electron mobility, a property which determines how fast an electron can travel in a material and how fast electronic devices can operate.

A June 1, 2016 University of Manchester press release, which originated the news item, provides more detail,

The resulting device is the most sensitive room-temperature rectifier ever made. Conventional devices with similar conversion efficiencies require cryogenically low temperatures.

Even today’s most efficient internal combustion engines can only convert about 70% of energy burned from fossil fuels into the energy required to power a car. The rest of the energy created is often wasted through exhaust heat or cooling systems.

Greg Auton, who performed most of the experiment said: “Graphene has exceptional properties; it possesses the longest carrier mean free path of any electronic material at room temperature.

“Despite this, even the most promising applications to commercialise graphene in the electronics industry do not take advantage of this property. Instead they often try to tackle the the problem that graphene has no band gap.”

Professor Song who invented the concept of the ballistic rectifier said: “The working principle of the ballistic rectifier means that it does not require any band gap. Meanwhile, it has a single-layered planar device structure which is perfect to take the advantage of the high electron-mobility to achieve an extremely high operating speed.

“Unlike conventional rectifiers or diodes, the ballistic rectifier does not have any threshold voltage either, making it perfect for energy harvest as well as microwave and infrared detection”.

The Manchester-based group is now looking to scale up the research by using large wafer-sized graphene and perform high-frequency experiments. The resulting technology can also be applied to harvesting wasted heat energy in power plants.

Making rubber more rubbery for better condoms

A May 20, 2016 news item on Nanowerk announces some research on rubber from the University of Manchester (Note: A link has been removed),

In an article published in Carbon (“Graphene and water-based elastomers thin-film composites by dip-moulding”), Dr Aravind Vijayaraghavan and Dr Maria Iliut from Manchester have shown that adding a very small amount of graphene, the world’s thinnest and strongest material, to rubber films can increase both their strength and the elasticity by up to 50%. Thin rubber films are ubiquitous in daily life, used in everything from gloves to condoms.

A May 20, 2016 University of Manchester press release (also on EurekAlert), which originated the news item, provides more detail,

In their experiments, the scientists tested two kinds of rubbery materials – natural rubber, comprised of a material called polyisoprene, and a man-made rubber called polyurethane. To these, they added graphene of different kinds, amounts and size.

In most cases, it they observed that the resulting composite material could be stretched to a greater degree and with greater force before it broke. Indeed, adding just one tenth of one percent of graphene was all it took to make the rubber 50% stronger.

Dr Vijayaraghavan, who leads the Nano-functional Materials Group, explains “A composite is a material which contains two parts, a matrix which is soft and light and a filler which is strong. Taken together, you get something which is both light and strong. This is the principle behind carbon fibre composites used in sports cars, or Kevlar composites used in body armour.

“In this case, we have made a composite of rubber, which is soft and stretchy but fragile, with graphene and the resulting material is both stronger and stretchier.”

Dr Maria Iliut, a research associate in Dr Vijayaraghavan’s group, describes how this material is produced: “We use a form of graphene called graphene oxide, which unlike graphene is stable as a dispersion in water. The rubber materials are also in a form that is stable in water, allowing us to combine them before forming thin films with a process called dip moulding.”

“The important thing here is that because these films are so thin, we need a strengthening filler which is also very thin. Fortunately, graphene is both the thinnest and strongest material we know of.”

The project emerged from a call by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, to develop a more desirable condom. [my Nov. 22, 2013 post features the grant announcement and Dr. Vijayaraghavan’s research plans] According to Dr Vijayaraghavan, this composite material has tremendous implications in daily life.

He adds “Our thinking was that if we could make the rubber used in condoms stronger and stretchier, then you could use that to make even thinner condoms which would feel better without breaking.

“Similar arguments can be made for using this material to make better gloves, sportswear, medical devices and so on. We are seeing considerable industrial interest in this area and we hope more companies will want to get involved in the commercial opportunities this research could create.”

Here’s a link to and a citation for the paper,

Graphene and water-based elastomers thin-film composites by dip-moulding by Maria Iliut, Claudio Silva, Scott Herrick, Mark McGlothlin, Aravind Vijayaraghavan. Carbon doi:10.1016/j.carbon.2016.05.032 Available online 14 May 2016

This paper is open access.

 

Calming a synapse (part of a neuron) with graphene flakes

As we continue to colonize our own brains, there’s more news of graphene and neurons (see my Feb. 1, 2016 post featuring research from the same team in Italy featured in this post). A May 10, 2016 news item on ScienceDaily highlights work that could be used for epilepsy,

Innovative graphene technology to buffer the activity of synapses– this is the idea behind a recently-published study in the journal ACS Nano coordinated by the International School for Advanced Studies in Trieste (SISSA) and the University of Trieste. In particular, the study showed how effective graphene oxide flakes are at interfering with excitatory synapses, an effect that could prove useful in new treatments for diseases like epilepsy.

I guess the press release took a while to make its way through translation, here’s more from the April 10, 2016 SISSA (International School for Advanced Studies) press release (also on EurekAlert),

The laboratory of SISSA’s Laura Ballerini in collaboration with the University of Trieste, the University of Manchester and the University of Castilla -la Mancha, has discovered a new approach to modulating synapses. This methodology could be useful for treating diseases in which electrical nerve activity is altered. Ballerini and Maurizio Prato (University of Trieste) are the principal investigators of the project within the European flagship on graphene, a far-reaching 10-year international collaboration (one billion euros in funding) that studies innovative uses of the material.

Traditional treatments for neurological diseases generally include drugs that act on the brain or neurosurgery. Today however, graphene technology is showing promise for these types of applications, and is receiving increased attention from the scientific community. The method studied by Ballerini and colleagues uses “graphene nano-ribbons” (flakes) which buffer activity of synapses simply by being present.

“We administered aqueous solutions of graphene flakes to cultured neurons in ‘chronic’ exposure conditions, repeating the operation every day for a week. Analyzing functional neuronal electrical activity, we then traced the effect on synapses” says Rossana Rauti, SISSA researcher and first author of the study.

In the experiments, size of the flakes varied (10 microns or 80 nanometers) as well as the type of graphene: in one condition graphene was used, in another, graphene oxide. “The ‘buffering’ effect on synaptic activity happens only with smaller flakes of graphene oxide and not in other conditions,” says Ballerini. “The effect, in the system we tested, is selective for the excitatory synapses, while it is absent in inhibitory ones”

A Matter of Size

What is the origin of this selectivity? “We know that in principle graphene does not interact chemically with synapses in a significant way- its effect is likely due to the mere presence of synapses,” explains SISSA researcher and one of the study’s authors, Denis Scaini. “We do not yet have direct evidence, but our hypothesis is that there is a link with the sub-cellular organization of the synaptic space.”

A synapse is a contact point between one neuron and another where the nervous electrical signal “jumps” between a pre and post-synaptic unit. [emphasis mine] There is a small gap or discontinuity where the electrical signal is “translated” by a neurotransmitter and released by pre-synaptic termination into the extracellular space and reabsorbed by the postsynaptic space, to be translated again into an electrical signal. The access to this space varies depending on the type of synapses: “For the excitatory synapses, the structure’s organization allows higher exposure for the graphene flakes interaction, unlike inhibitory synapses, which are less physically accessible in this experimental model,” says Scaini.

Another clue that distance and size could be crucial in the process is found in the observation that graphene performs its function only in the oxidized form. “Normal graphene looks like a stretched and stiff sheet while graphene oxide appears crumpled, and thus possibly favoring interface with the synaptic space, ” adds Rauti.

Administering graphene flake solutions leaves the neurons alive and intact. For this reason the team thinks they could be used in biomedical applications for treating certain diseases. “We may imagine to target a drug by exploiting the apparent flakes’ selectivity for synapses, thus targeting directly the basic functional unit of neurons”concludes Ballerini.

That’s a nice description of neurons, synapses, and neurotransmitters.

Here’s a link to and a citation for the paper,

Graphene Oxide Nanosheets Reshape Synaptic Function in Cultured Brain Networks by Rossana Rauti, Neus Lozano, Veronica León, Denis Scaini†, Mattia Musto, Ilaria Rago, Francesco P. Ulloa Severino, Alessandra Fabbro, Loredana Casalis, Ester Vázquez, Kostas Kostarelos, Maurizio Prato, and Laura Ballerini. ACS Nano, 2016, 10 (4), pp 4459–4471
DOI: 10.1021/acsnano.6b00130 Publication Date (Web): March 31, 2016

Copyright © 2016 American Chemical Society

This paper is behind a paywall.

With over 150 partners from over 20 countries, the European Union’s Graphene Flagship research initiative unveils its work package devoted to biomedical technologies

An April 11, 2016 news item on Nanowerk announces the Graphene Flagship’s latest work package,

With a budget of €1 billion, the Graphene Flagship represents a new form of joint, coordinated research on an unprecedented scale, forming Europe’s biggest ever research initiative. It was launched in 2013 to bring together academic and industrial researchers to take graphene from the realm of academic laboratories into European society in the timeframe of 10 years. The initiative currently involves over 150 partners from more than 20 European countries. The Graphene Flagship, coordinated by Chalmers University of Technology (Sweden), is implemented around 15 scientific Work Packages on specific science and technology topics, such as fundamental science, materials, health and environment, energy, sensors, flexible electronics and spintronics.

Today [April 11, 2016], the Graphene Flagship announced in Barcelona the creation of a new Work Package devoted to Biomedical Technologies, one emerging application area for graphene and other 2D materials. This initiative is led by Professor Kostas Kostarelos, from the University of Manchester (United Kingdom), and ICREA Professor Jose Antonio Garrido, from the Catalan Institute of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (ICN2, Spain). The Kick-off event, held in the Casa Convalescència of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB), is co-organised by ICN2 (ICREA Prof Jose Antonio Garrido), Centro Nacional de Microelectrónica (CNM-IMB-CSIC, CIBER-BBN; CSIC Tenured Scientist Dr Rosa Villa), and Institut d’Investigacions Biomèdiques August Pi i Sunyer (IDIBAPS; ICREA Prof Mavi Sánchez-Vives).

An April 11, 2016 ICN2 press release, which originated the news item, provides more detail about the Biomedical Technologies work package and other work packages,

The new Work Package will focus on the development of implants based on graphene and 2D-materials that have therapeutic functionalities for specific clinical outcomes, in disciplines such as neurology, ophthalmology and surgery. It will include research in three main areas: Materials Engineering; Implant Technology & Engineering; and Functionality and Therapeutic Efficacy. The objective is to explore novel implants with therapeutic capacity that will be further developed in the next phases of the Graphene Flagship.

The Materials Engineering area will be devoted to the production, characterisation, chemical modification and optimisation of graphene materials that will be adopted for the design of implants and therapeutic element technologies. Its results will be applied by the Implant Technology and Engineering area on the design of implant technologies. Several teams will work in parallel on retinal, cortical, and deep brain implants, as well as devices to be applied in the periphery nerve system. Finally, The Functionality and Therapeutic Efficacy area activities will centre on development of devices that, in addition to interfacing the nerve system for recording and stimulation of electrical activity, also have therapeutic functionality.

Stimulation therapies will focus on the adoption of graphene materials in implants with stimulation capabilities in Parkinson’s, blindness and epilepsy disease models. On the other hand, biological therapies will focus on the development of graphene materials as transport devices of biological molecules (nucleic acids, protein fragments, peptides) for modulation of neurophysiological processes. Both approaches involve a transversal innovation environment that brings together the efforts of different Work Packages within the Graphene Flagship.

A leading role for Barcelona in Graphene and 2D-Materials

The kick-off meeting of the new Graphene Flagship Work Package takes place in Barcelona because of the strong involvement of local institutions and the high international profile of Catalonia in 2D-materials and biomedical research. Institutions such as the Catalan Institute of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (ICN2) develop frontier research in a supportive environment which attracts talented researchers from abroad, such as ICREA Research Prof Jose Antonio Garrido, Group Leader of the ICN2 Advanced Electronic Materials and Devices Group and now also Deputy Leader of the Biomedical Technologies Work Package. Until summer 2015 he was leading a research group at the Technische Universität München (Germany).

Further Graphene Flagship events in Barcelona are planned; in May 2016 ICN2 will also host a meeting of the Spintronics Work Package. ICREA Prof Stephan Roche, Group Leader of the ICN2 Theoretical and Computational Nanoscience Group, is the deputy leader of this Work Package led by Prof Bart van Wees, from the University of Groningen (The Netherlands). Another Work Package, on optoelectronics, is led by Prof Frank Koppens from the Institute of Photonic Sciences (ICFO, Spain), with Prof Andrea Ferrari from the University of Cambridge (United Kingdom) as deputy. Thus a number of prominent research institutes in Barcelona are deeply involved in the coordination of this European research initiative.

Kostas Kostarelos, the leader of the Biomedical Technologies Graphene Flagship work package, has been mentioned here before in the context of his blog posts for The Guardian science blog network (see my Aug. 7, 2014 post for a link to his post on metaphors used in medicine).