Story at a glance

  • The research was published in the journal Nature.
  • This eco-friendly fabric contains a display for wearers to view navigational maps and enables communication and the storage of health information.
  • Scientists say it could be available as early as next year.

A Chinese group of scientists have created a new high-tech fabric that will work like a smartphone, according to the Good News Network.

The research, conducted at Fudan University, led to the development of an environmentally friendly, sustainable fabric that is solar-powered by combining cotton with conductive and luminescent fibers.

In the past, scientists have struggled to create such a wearable technological fabric because of challenges fusing fabric with a large, functioning display. The subsequent display fabric they have developed comes in at 20-feet long and 10 inches wide and can be utilized to create the garments.

"Conventional solid-state materials are not readily compatible with textiles because they struggle to withstand the natural deformation that occurs when fabrics are worn and washed,” said one of the authors, professor Huisheng Peng. “It’s integrated with a touch-sensitive fabric keyboard and power supply that harvests solar energy.”


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Researchers hope this futuristic fabric will be used to improve safety for motorists and cyclists, using a display on the sleeve as a navigational map for directions and communications, as well as storing health information in the case of emergencies. 

The fabric itself is increasingly durable. “The cloth is flexible, breathable, and durable—making it ideal for the real world,” said Peng.

In studies, the fabric is said to have withstood "1,000 cycles of bending, stretching and pressing," and its bright hues remained after 100 laundry cycles.

Scientists believe this cost-effective fabric could be available on the market as soon as next year. “They are not just conceptions. In fact, we can produce such display textiles at large scale with low cost,” said Peng. “We are already providing them to companies. I think they will start to be used this year—at least, no later than next year.”


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Published on Apr 12, 2021