A new graphene printing technology could effectively help o reshape the way that wearables exist and work up until this point. Wearables have become the forefront of the tech world, with new smartwatches that can do everything from tracking calories to tracking the user’s heart rate. New technology from the engineers at Iowa State University has helped to make a graphene printing technology that can print low-cost electric circuits onto flexible materials that are both extremely conductive as well as being water repellant.
The report from the university states that “Graphene is a single layer of carbon atoms that are bonded together in a hexagonal honeycomb configuration. This super material can not only hold up an elephant without breaking, but is also an effective conductor of heat and electricity.”
The technology would reportedly “lend enormous value to self-cleaning wearable/washable electronics that are resistant to stains, or ice and biofilm formation.” The inkjet printed flakes of graphene would need to be treated to increase their amount of conductivity so that they could be used in some type of future clothing, the university hopes. “In order to treat the graphene without damaging the surface it’s printed on, however, the research team developed a rapid-pulse laser process. That laser technology also enables the team to craft water-repelling, or hydrophobic, circuits.”
One researcher states that “The laser aligns the graphene flakes vertically – like little pyramids stacking up. And that’s what induces the hydrophobicity,” said Jonathan Claussen, assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Iowa State University and corresponding author The hopes are high that this new technology can effectively help to change the way that we interact with our tech, improving our lives as we enter the next generation of technology.