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Developing "smart" or electronic textiles

Student designer works with a computerized knitting machine to make prototypes of electronic fabrics

Kristy Jost, a student designer and scientist at Drexel University, works with a computerized knitting machine used to make rapid prototypes of real electronic fabrics. Jost is developing textile supercapacitors using 3-D knitting design and fabrication in the Shima Seiki Haute Technology Lab of Professor Genevieve Dion.

Unlike batteries, a supercapacitor is an energy storage device than can be made entirely of non-toxic materials and has highly reversible charging and discharging cycles, making supercapacitors last for upwards of 1 million cycles. In addition, supercapacitors can charge in a matter of seconds. These devices can be used to power wearable sensors and antennas, or harvest energy from wearable solar panels and other energy harvesting devices.

Jost's interests lie in exploring and creating "smart" or electronic textiles--textiles that feel like regular fabric but can perform tasks such as monitoring the heart rate and blood pressure of the wearer or a jacket that heats up to adjust to the temperature outside.

Jost began her career at Drexel in 2007 as an undergraduate majoring in fashion design. Later, she made the transition from fashion design to a Ph.D. program in materials science and received a National Science Foundation Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) program fellowship. Her graduate research continues to focus on integrating energy storage into textiles using manufacturing methods widely used in the apparel industry. (Date of Image: February 2013)

Credit: Charles Cerrone, Drexel University

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