Researchers have developed a simple, scalable, and low-cost capillary-driven self-assembly method to prepare flexible and stretchable conductive fibers that have applications in wearable electronics and smart fabrics.

The flexible wires have applications in wearable electronics and smart fabrics. (Credit: World Scientific)

A simple, scalable, and low-cost capillary-driven self-assembly is the method used to prepare conductive fibers with uniform morphology, high conductivity, and good mechanical strength. The low-cost method can produce silver nanowires (Ag NWs) and coated flexible and stretchable conductive fibers.

Taking advantage of the capillary action of fibers, such as cotton, nylon, and polyester yarns as well as PDMS fibers, the solution containing Ag NWs is spontaneously absorbed into the capillary tunnels. The Ag NWs are evenly coated onto the fibers through evaporation-induced flow and capillary-driven self-assembly process to form conductive fibers, which is in situ observed by an optical microscopic measurement.

Smart textiles with electronic devices such as sensors, light emitting diodes, transistors, batteries, and supercapacitors integrated into fabrics have drawn considerable attention. Conductive fibers and yarns, with the function of connecting various electronic devices, play a key role in smart textiles system.

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