The use of texture analysis in the development of new materials for wearable technologies
With the popularity of fitness trackers, smartwatches, and other health monitoring and entertainment gadgets, wearable technologies have exploded in recent years. The need for innovative materials that are accurate, lightweight, durable, and comfortable to wear data collectors and transmitters for long periods of time is growing alongside the demand for wearable technologies. It takes careful consideration of the materials used in their construction to achieve this harmony of form and function.
Image Credit: Stable Micro Systems Ltd
Researchers need to assess the flexibility, firmness and other physical characteristics of the materials that make up wearable devices and this is made easily possible through the use of a TA.XTplusC/TA.HDplusC texture analyzer, which has become a powerful tool for creating and developing new materials for wearable technologies. A detailed understanding of the mechanical characteristics of a material, such as its texture, firmness, elasticity and durability, is necessary for the creation of new materials for wearable technology, because wearability, comfort and durability are influenced by these characteristics.
Examples of measuring materials using a texture analyzer:
Using a texture analyzer, the deformation and mechanical characteristics of a material under particular loading circumstances at selected locations on the test specimen can be measured, providing a scientific and quantitative means to characterize the mechanical qualities. The forces and deformations resulting from the compression or stretching of the material in different ways are recorded. The behavior of materials in various situations, such as temperature, humidity, pressure, and wear, can also be understood using this technical method. There are a number of devices that are used on the texture analyzer to support or test the sample in a particular way depending on the property that is being measured. Below are some examples:
Texture analyzer measuring split tear, loop compression and material bursting strength. Image Credit: Stable Micro Systems Ltd
Texture analyzer measuring tensile strength, tear and T-peel properties. Image credit: Stable Micro Systems Ltd
How does a texture analyzer benefit the development of new materials for wearable technologies?
- Fabric Comfort Rating: A key factor in determining fabric comfort is its ability to stretch and recover. This is essential to ensure a comfortable and secure fit. Researchers can use mechanical testing to measure properties such as softness, flexibility, and elasticity, helping to identify the optimal level of each that will provide the ideal fit without restricting movement or causing discomfort.
- Optimization of adhesive properties: Wearable technologies rely on adhesives to accurately measure physiological signals. Using a texture analyzer, researchers can optimize adhesive properties, ensuring they are both durable and flexible enough to adhere to a variety of surfaces.
- Innovative 3D printing materials: The rise of 3D printing has led to a demand for materials that are both light and flexible, yet strong enough to meet the demands of wearable technology. Mechanical testing with a texture analyzer can be used to develop new materials for 3D printing that meet these criteria, allowing the production of wearable devices that are both functional and comfortable.
- Component durability rating: Wearable devices must be able to withstand repeated use and exposure to environmental factors. A texture analyzer can help researchers identify wear-resistant materials, enabling the creation of wearable devices that are both durable and reliable. By measuring the physical properties of materials, researchers can find the ideal combination of materials to create wearable devices that can withstand the demands of everyday use.
Pioneers already using texture analyzer for wearable device development
While commercial companies do not reveal how they are already leveraging their texture analyzer’s measurement capabilities to move forward in this rapid development environment, we can highlight some recently published papers in academia that use the analyzer of texture.
Highly stretchable, self-healing, super-adhesive multifunctional ionogel for a flexible wearable sensor – Researchers at Beijing Technology and Business University used their TA.XTplus texture analyzer to measure the strength and elasticity of ionogel and plan to use the material in sensors that could be worn on the skin and monitor vital signs such as heart rate and blood pressure.
Humidity–Resistant, Wide–Range of garment pressure sensors–Integrated monitoring of health, movement and grip strength in natural environments – Researchers at the University of Massachusetts have created a moisture-resistant pressure sensor that can be embedded into clothing to track activity, grip strength and general well-being. The technique uses flexible, elastic silicones and moisture-resistant graphene-based electrodes that are used to assess fabric panels using their texture analyzer. The fingertips have sensors that can be adjusted to track muscle activity and grip strength. Athletes, the military, people with physical disabilities, and people with long-term medical conditions may find use for the device, which can also detect changes in temperature and humidity.
All-starch hydrogel for flexible electronics: strain-sensitive batteries and self-powered sensors – A flexible hydrogel that was created by researchers at Guangdong University may help advance wearable technology. Scientists have developed a hydrogel with excellent tensile strength and strain sensitivity that can be used as a flexible battery or as a strain sensor by mixing starch with a sodium polyacrylate solution. They evaluated the mechanical characteristics of the hydrogel using their texture analyzer and found that it had good shape retention even when stretched. The hydrogel is expected to be used in clothing, medical applications, and wearable technology like smartwatches.
Improved skin adhesive property of α-cyclodextrin/nonanyl electrospinning modified poly(vinyl alcohol) inclusion complex fiber sheet – An approach to improve the adhesive characteristics of poly(vinyl alcohol) inclusion complex fiber sheets modified by alpha-cyclodextrin/nonanyl electrospinning has been devised by scientists at the National Institute of Materials Science in Japan. Scientists evaluated the material’s adhesion using their texture analyzer and found that it could be useful for medical adhesive products or wound healing. The study illustrates the revolutionary potential of electrospinning for materials design and the benefits of using texture analyzers in materials science.
Self–Healing photochromic elastomeric composites for Portable UV–Sensors – A self-healing photochromic elastomer composite material has been created by Thai researchers from the Vidyasirimedhi Institute of Science and Technology (VISTEC) that can be used to make wearable UV sensors. They measured the tensile strength and elongation of the material using their texture analyzer before coating it with a thin film to improve its photochromic characteristics. The substance changes color when exposed to UV light, which is a measure of the level of UV radiation. The material is perfect for use in portable devices due to its ability to repair any damage caused by repeated use.
Zinc-Ion Engineered Herbal Multifunctional Hydrogels for Hose Portable Strain sensors, bio-electrodes and zinc-ion hybrid capacitors – Using a texture analyzer, scientists from Qilu University of Technology developed plant-based hydrogels for wearable strain sensors, bio-electrodes and zinc-ion hybrid capacitors. Hydrogels were designed to provide flexibility and good conductivity and were created from bacterial and vegetable cellulose. The group evaluated the compressibility and tensile strength of the hydrogels using their texture analyzer. According to research, these plant-based hydrogels hold great promise for use in a variety of applications, such as energy storage and medicinal devices. For hundreds of other published papers using Texture Analyzer for wearable sensor research, click here:
See other examples of using a texture analyzer for material testing
Learn how other industry leaders are using texture analysis to test innovative materials to beat their competition
This information has been extracted, revised and adapted from materials provided by Stable Micro Systems Ltd.
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