The result is a display that could possibly be integrated into clothes, without having to be removed for wash cycles.
Encapsulation barriers are a hot topic in flexible electronics, as deposited circuits layers (from both solar cells and OLEDs) tend to be altered by external moisture and oxygen, causing malfunctions. While encapsulation barriers have been developed to increase printed electronics reliability for normal environments, such barriers lose their characteristics in aqueous environments, such as water, which limits the commercialization of fabric-based wearable displays that ought to remain functional even on rainy days or after washing.
The researchers solved this issue by creating a washable encapsulation barrier through atomic layer deposition (ALD) and spin coating. The new encapsulation barrier was proven to protect the electronics reliably even through 20 washings with 10-minute cycles, with textile-based wearable display modules (including PSCs and OLEDs) unaffected by the wash cycles.
What’s more, the encapsulated device operated stably even when the display was flexed at a 3mm radius. Further testing showed that the display’s properties remain stable over 30 days even after being subjected to both bending stress and washing.
Using a textile base for the circuits means the electronics are less subject to mechanical stress compared to conventional wearable electronic devices that use traditional plastic substrates. The researchers hope their results will accelerate the commercialization of self-powered wearable electronics, beyond today’s detachable modules.
Washable electronic circuits printed on fabric
MIT extrudes electronic-laden fibres for fabric-based wearables
Conductive “felt” can be twisted, stretches to 300%
Skin electronics combine biomedical sensors with stretchable display