After smart phones and smart watches next in line are the smart textiles which are capable of sensing what goes around you, can store the data and communicate the necessary action. The day of smart textiles is not too far in the future as scientists are closing in day by day to make smart textile a reality.
A team of experts from the IIT-Kharagpur have developed a hybrid material which is based on the protein found in the silk fiber known as 'silk fibroin'.
The unconventional material has the potential to be forged into the textile-based smart devices which can be used to help the soldiers, defense personnel and also has a scope for bio-medical applications.
"We have designed a hybrid photo detector using zinc oxide nanostructures on gold nanoparticle-embedded silk protein for applications that combine electronics and light," Samit K. Ray, currently officiating as the Director of S.N. Bose National Centre for Basic Sciences, Kolkata (on lien), said.
A photo detector is a device which operates by converting the light into voltage or current.
"The hybrid material can store data and can detect light, both in the ultraviolet and visible wavelength range, thereby offering greater sensitivity and scope of detection," Ray said.
Flexibility, strechability, biocompatibility and biodegradability are some of the Unique selling points of the hybrid material.
"These properties are due to a combination of silk fibroin and semi-conducting zinc oxide in presence of gold nanoparticles," Ray noted.
"Bombyx mori silk worms are the main producers of silk fibroins worldwide in the form of cocoons. These fibroins are attractive due to their high mechanical strength, toughness, thermal stability and biocompatibility/ biodegradability,elaborated Ray.
More than 95 percent of the commercial electronics and computing systems today use silicon chips as a semi-conductor material the team decided to use the zinc oxide, said Ray.