The textile industry has advanced processes that allow computerized manufacturing of garments at large volumes with precise visual patterns. The industry, however, is not able to mass fabricate clothes with seamlessly integrated wearable sensors, using its precise methods of fabrication (such as computerized embroidery). This is due to the lack of conductive threads compatible with standard manufacturing methods used in industry. In this work, we report a low-cost poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) polystyrene sulfonate (PEDOT:PSS)-modified cotton conductive thread (PECOTEX) that is compatible with computerized embroidery. The PECOTEX was produced using a crosslinking reaction between PEDOT:PSS and cotton thread using divinyl sulfone as the crosslinker. We extensively characterized and optimized our formulations to create a mechanically robust conductive thread that can be produced in large quantities in a roll-to-roll fashion. Using PECOTEX and a domestic computerized embroidery machine, we produced a series of wearable electrical sensors including a facemask for monitoring breathing, a t-shirt for monitoring heart activity and textile-based gas sensors for monitoring ammonia as technology demonstrators. PECOTEX has the potential to enable mass manufacturing of new classes of low-cost wearable sensors integrated into everyday clothes.

PEDOT:PSS-modified cotton conductive thread for mass manufacturing of textile-based electrical wearable sensors by computerized embroidery

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DOI: 10.1016/j.mattod.2022.07.015