Knitted carbon-nanotube-sheath/spandex-core elastomeric yarns for artificial muscles and strain sensing
Highly stretchable, actuatable, electrically conductive knitted textiles based on Spandex (SPX)/CNT (carbon nanotube) composite yarns were prepared by an integrated knitting procedure. SPX filaments were continuously wrapped with CNT aerogel sheets and supplied directly to an interlocking circular knitting machine to form three-dimensional electrically conductive and stretchable textiles. By adjusting the SPX/CNT feed ratio, the fabric electrical conductivities could be tailored in the range of 870 to 7092 S/m. The electrical conductivity depended on tensile strain, with a linear and largely hysteresis-free resistance change occurring on loading and unloading between 0% and 80% strain. Electrothermal heating of the stretched fabric caused large tensile contractions of up to 33% and generated a gravimetric mechanical work capacity during contraction of up to 0.64 kJ/kg and a maximum specific power output of 1.28 kW/kg, which far exceeds that of mammalian skeletal muscle. The knitted textile provides the combination of strain sensing and the ability to control dimensions required for smart clothing that simultaneously monitors the wearer's movements and adjusts the garment fit or exerts forces or pressures on the wearer, according to needs. The developed processing method is scalable for the fabrication of industrial quantities of strain sensing and actuating smart textiles.
ARC/DP110101073, ARC/DE130100517, ARC/CE140100012