2009-12-09_ovanligt_projekt_revolutionerar_huvudbildThis year sees the launch of a new research project at the School of Engineering (IH), partnering up with Smart Textiles, Swerea/IVF and Chalmers, leading to increased usability for lightweight electrically conducive fibers in textiles materials. “We will combine modeling research on nano shells with experimental research, an unusual approach, for the purpose of developing light fibers with smart characteristics,” says professor Kim Bolton at IH.

It is through modeling research at IH the technology will be made possible. Electrically conductive polymers are already used to give the fibers electrical characteristics. At Swerea/IVF polymer composites that contain carbon materials are used. In order to change the electrical power and current in the threads, carbon materials are mixed with fibers, but the right current has yet to be found. “That is where this project starts. Finding the ‘mix’ that works, in order to achieve the smart characteristics we are looking for,” explains professor Kim Bolton.

Software to Find the Right Combination

The right combination is to be found through software in a process known as modeling research. “Modeling research means that we use our computers to test how different molecules interact with each other and how they react when mixed,” explains professor Kim Bolton, who is in charge of the project.

“By cooperating with Swerea/IVF among others, we can easily let the modeling research transform into experimental research, where the molecular composition can be tested in reality.”

Will Simplify Manufacturing

Today, copper thread is one example of what might be used when textiles are to be made electrically conductive, and copper thread can only be weaved on special machines. If the new technology becomes commonplace, ordinary machines can be used to create electrically conductive materials. “We expect it to work within a reasonable amount of time. I firmly believe in the unusual cooperation between modeling research and experimental research,” concludes Kim Bolton.

Facts

Modeling research is part of the project “Low weight Electro-Active Fibers/Textiles/Layers and Manufacturing of Components.”

By: Therese Rosenblad
Photo: Ulf Nilsson