Electronic shirts that keep the wearer comfortably warm or cool, as well as medical fabrics that deliver drugs, monitor the condition of a wound, and perform other tasks, may one day be manufactured more efficiently thanks to a key advance in ink.
The breakthrough involves inkjet printing and materials with a crystal structure discovered nearly two centuries ago. The upshot is the ability to apply circuitry, with precision and at low processing temperatures, directly onto cloth — a promising potential solution to the longstanding trade-off between performance and fabrication costs.
The stable, printable ink is based on binary metal iodide salts and thermally transforms into a dense compound of cesium, tin and iodine. The resulting film of Cs2SnI6 has a crystal structure that makes it a perovskite.
The team was able to print negative-temperature-coefficient thermistors directly onto woven polyester at temperatures as low as 120 °C. The research demonstrates directly fabricating high-performance NTC thermistors onto fabrics at half the temperature currently used by state-of-the-art manufacturers.
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