Purdue researchers invent self-powered e-fabric capable of electronic remotes while keeping away bacteria


Team of researchers at Purdue University have created innovative clothing which has the feature of controlling electronic devices through clothing. The fabric innovation helps wearers to turn on music and lights, in addition to keeping them safe from the latest virus around.

It’s the first time that a fabric textile can protect wearers from stains, rains and bacteria. The self-powered e-textiles consist of an advanced development of wearable machine-human interface, in addition to the feature that they can be washed several times in regular washing machines without degradation.

“It is the first time there is a technique capable to transform any existing cloth item or textile into a self-powered e-textile containing sensors, music players or simple illumination displays using simple embroidery without the need for expensive fabrication processes requiring complex steps or expensive equipment,” commented Ramses Martinez with regards to the innovation.

Martinez is an assistant professor in the School of Industrial Engineering and in the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering in Purdue’s College of Engineering.

The waterproof, antibacterial and breathable self-powered clothing is made of omniphobic triboelectric nanogeneragtors (RF-TENGs). Due to this component of simple embroidery and fluorinated molecules, small electronic components can convert a fabric into mechanisms of a power device. Furthermore, the fabric is capable of keeping bacteria, stains, rains and odors away from the wearer.

“While fashion has evolved significantly during the last centuries and has easily adopted recently developed high-performance materials, there are very few examples of clothes on the market that interact with the user,” Martinez commented. “Having an interface with a machine that we are constantly wearing sounds like the most convenient approach for a seamless communication with machines and the Internet of Things.”

The workings of the innovated technology has been published in Advanced Functional Materials. Moreover, the invention is patented by Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization and is part of the university’s 150th anniversary.