Red Wine May Hold the Key to Wearables of Tomorrow

Drinking red wine is not only good for the heart, it may help build next generation wearables.

Image: Pixabay

Drinking red wine is not only good for heart, it may help build next generation wearables that monitor your heart.

A team of scientists from the University of Manchester are using tannic acid from red wine, coffee or black tea to develop more flexible and durable wearable devices. Their research was published in the journal Small.

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By improving the durability of flexible sensors, the team has already developed wearables such as capacitive breath sensors and artificial hands for extreme conditions.

The addition of tannins improved mechanical properties of materials such as cotton to develop wearable sensors for rehabilitation monitoring, drastically increasing the devices lifespan, reports

Dr. Xuqing Liu who led the research team said: “We are using this method to develop new flexible, breathable, wearable devices. The main research objective of our group is to develop comfortable wearable devices for flexible human-machine interface.”

Image: Wikimedia commons

“Traditional conductive material suffers from weak bonding to the fibers which can result in low conductivity. When red wine, or coffee, or black tea, is sprinkled on dress, it will be difficult to get rid of these stains. The main reason is that they all contain tannic acid, which can firmly adsorb the material on the surface of the fiber. This good adhesion is exactly what we need for durable wearable, conductive devices.”

Repeated bending and folding can interrupt the conductivity of wearable devices due to tiny micro cracks.

This new research showed that without the layer of tannic acid, the conductivity is several hundred times, or even thousands of times, less than traditional conductive material samples as the conductive coating becomes easily detached from the textile surface through repeated bending and flexing.

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The researchers used commercially available tannins, and also tried immersing the fabric directly in red wine, black tea and black coffee solutions where they saw the same results.

This new technology can reduce the price of wearables and also improve their comfortability and robustness.

Developers can utilize this improved conductivity to use more comfortable fabrics, such as cotton, to replace nylon, which is stiff and uncomfortable. This technology can also be used to make flexible printed circuit boards by printing circuits directly on to the surface of clothing.

Sam Draper
July 15, 2019

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