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Textile Sensor Applications with Composite Monofilaments of Polymer/Carbon Nanotubes

Department of Textile Engineering, University of Minho, Portugal
Department of Polymer Engineering, University of Minho, Portugal

The aim of this work was to develop polymer matrix/carbon nanotube (CNT) composite monofilaments to incorporate in textile products, to be used as sensors. The carbon nanotube polymer composite (CPC) monofilaments were produced with the required electrical and mechanical properties for the development of textile sensors for water vapour and temperature, respectively.
The monofilaments selected were formed by poly(lactic acid) (PLA) and polypropylene/polycaprolactone (PP/PCL) blended with CNT, and were incorporated directly into the fabrics. The presence of water or temperature modification induced a variation on the electrical conductivity of the filaments. The sensitivity of the monofilaments to humidity and temperature was demonstrated.

The target of these sensors is for textile applications (clothing or home textiles) where there is a need for early detection of humidity or temperature. Also, the application of these sensors in garments for sports or personal protection, among others, can be foreseen.

However, the application of these filaments in textile materials is still a difficult stage of the process, due the stiffness of the monofilaments, introducing limitations on their processing on the conventional textile equipments.

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