Nordic network on smart light-conversion textiles beyond electric circuits (Beyond e-Textiles)

Today’s e-textiles require electric circuits and batteries that are brittle, bulky, often prevent maintenance of the textile and hinder customer acceptance. These rigid conductive elements can be made redundant due to the possibilities enabled by the design of novel yarns. In our vision, different photoresponsive molecules and nanoparticles embedded in these new yarns can directly convert photons into heat, actuation, or triggering a colour change as well as act as catalysers for photocleanable fabrics. Hence, the aim of this project is to develop smart textiles that bypass the need for electric circuits and directly transform solar – or other ambient - illumination into useful action. Moreover, a major challenge keeping many of the smart textile innovations at bay is that they were developed solely from technological perspectives, forgetting possible use in daily life, user attachment and aesthetics.

These parameters are of pivotal importance in developing a sustainable use perspective where it is crucial to work with longevity, high use frequency and durability. The interdisciplinary collaboration between chemical engineering and design is the foundation for our collaborative innovations and it is pivotal in transferring the research into practice to have a major societal impact.

Our network aims to unlock the full commercial potential of smart textiles by opening up ways for light-powered textiles that can find uses for instance as sunshine-based dry cleaning or disinfecting of clothes, UV-powered water purification nets, light-collecting tents, and incident irradiation adaptable window shades/curtains. Overall, our goal is to bring together critical mass and to form a network to serve particularly Nordic industries that could benefit from progress in smart textiles. Moreover, we aim to enhance Nordic integrity in exchanging the best practices of teaching design thinking, as well as facilitating interdisciplinary collaboration between scientists, engineers, designers and artists.