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Color Changing Fiber
Apr 11, 2018

The new generation of yarns will give the word "change clothes" a new meaning. With the new fibrous material woven into the fabric, you can change the colors with a light touch of a button.


In the coming days, the color of clothes woven with these fiber threads will change according to the person's mood or the environment, and its principle is similar to the fact that the light-sensitive spectacle lenses will be darkened under daylight. U.S. University of Connecticut's Professor of Polymers and Organic Chemistry, Gregory Sottsing, said that the line is made of a material called electrochromic polymer, which is a polymer that changes color with current. Satensin said: "We are looking at a "display" that can be worn on the body, a flexible fiber display."


This line can achieve this effect because the polymer absorbs a series of visible wavelengths of light. When the voltage reaches a certain level, the polymer's electrons will rise to a higher energy level. In this state, the fiber will absorb different wavelengths of light, and the color change will be different. Satensin said: "Through the adjustment of chemicals, you can achieve the purpose of adjusting the color of your clothes."


Sotersing also stated that flexible fiber electrochromic polymers have been manufactured before, but these polymers are very hard and cannot be woven into fibers by conventional methods. He said: "To woven into fibers, the polymer must have high viscosity. You must let the polymers entangle with each other. It is very difficult for polymers that are too hard to do this." He explained that it is difficult to use such hard materials for spinning. It's like twisting uncooked spaghetti together.


The researchers wanted to press electrochromic polymers into very thin cylinders, but the fibers they made using this technique were still very stiff and short, only about 0.004 inches (0.01 cm). So, Suttersing and his colleagues came up with a new method, before the textile, by increasing the electrochromic properties make it a common flexible polymer, ordinary polymers like nylon can be woven into 0.62 miles (1 km) long thin line. Scientists added carbon and sulfur atom groups on the wire that had just been woven out. These atomic groups were like balls that swayed on a rope. The use of an oxidizing agent to decorate the wire causes a chemical reaction, and in this way, the wire is rendered electrochromic. Sothesing said: "When the balls are joined together, your electrochromic material is formed." He added that by this procedure it is possible to make lines of any size, from the nanoscale to the length of the general fabric. The line.


Currently, Sotersing and his colleagues have developed fibers that can change from orange to blue and from red to blue. Sotzing’s goal is to conquer the entire visible spectrum. His theory is to weave these fibers together with a small amount of metal filaments to form a pixel-like cruciform type. Small batteries and controllers attached to the wires can change the electric field around each fiber pixel to change the color. It creates a pattern of clothing that changes with the color of the environment. Satensin said: "We don't have a T-shirt that can change color." But he hopes that he can get funding to weave this thread into a breathable fabric that will change color.


Manuel Marquez, an associate professor of bioengineering at Arizona State University, and Sotsison studied the technology. Marquez is optimistic about the potential applications of this fiber's variable display, such as a computer monitor, which does not deform when squeezed. He said: "This is a potential display. When you need it, you can bend it. However, it still has a good quality without distortion.


Marquez said that in addition to the fact that the polymer will change color when current is input, it will also change colors with different environments. Therefore, the fiber may be used as a sensor for the food and safety industry. For example, when an internal sensor detects a rot or contaminated food, its packaging will change color. Or the fibers detect harmful chemicals in the air and the sensors change color.

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