Posted in biology, electronic imaging and displays, engineering, Illumination, Nanotechnology, Optics, Solar and Alternative Energy

“Smart” Fabric

First there was the Huichol women weaving fiber optics into their blankets, and now this:

Researchers at the University of Michigan have developed electrically conductive, carbon nanotube-based cloth, produced by essentially washing cotton fabric in a carbon-nanotube bath. With just a few carbon nanotube threads, a piece of cloth can power an LED. And, the researchers point out, it still feels like cotton (or perhaps a cotton/synthetic blend?). They hope the cloth can eventually be used to detect airborne allergens, or where a soldier might be bleeding.

Of course there is always the question of whether these materials are safe for humans at the nano-level, so that will have to be explored before these can be found at your local Target. And my personal worry is that since humans are already electrically conductive, how likely is it to shock yourself on these shirts? Because frankly I can shock myself on anything: doorknobs, balloons, carpet, rotary phones, wool blankets…



Beth Kelley is an applied & digital anthropologist with an overall interest in how people engage with and are impacted by their environments and vice versa. This has manifested itself in many ways, by looking at creativity, playful spaces, built environments, and environmental enrichment, sustainability, design research, and integrative and collaborative models of learning such as through play and hands-on learning.