Scientists create graphene-coated fabric that detects dangerous gasses

Korean scientists have created a new type of fabric that is coated in graphene. The goal of this wearable fabric is to create a sensor system capable of detecting any noxious gasses that are present in the air and alert the wearer of their presence. Noxious gasses can be very deadly in different industries. Miners of yore carried a canary into the mines with them and if the bird died, they got out of the mine.

Rather than killing little birds, the scientists from the Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute and Konkuk University in the Republic of Korea created the wearable sensor fabric. Their fabric is a coated cotton and polyester yarn that is covered in nanoglue called bovine serum albumin (BSA). Those coated yarns were then wrapped in graphene oxide sheets.

Graphene, for those unfamiliar, is a very strong single atom thick layer of carbon. Graphene is currently being investigated for all sorts of uses in the electronics industry thanks to its high electrical conductivity. The scientists say that the graphene sheets stuck very well to the nanoglue and proved to retain conductive properties after 1,000 cycles of bending and straightening.

The graphene oxide coated fabric was particularly sensitive to detecting nitrogen dioxide, a pollutant produced in vehicle exhaust. During tests, the fabric was able to warn the wearer after being exposed for 30 minutes to 0.25 ppm of nitrogen dioxide, which is a bit less than five times higher than the acceptable standard set of the EPA. The coating process is simple making it viable for mass production say the researchers.