A team of researchers from Dartmouth College has created a copper-based coating that can be precisely integrated into fabric, thereby creating materials like protective equipment, environmental sensors and smart filters, among others.

According to its developers, the coating responds to toxic gases in the air, converting them into less toxic substances and trapping them in the fabric.

Graphical abstract. Source: Journal of the American Chemical Society (2022). DOI: 10.1021/jacs.2c05510Graphical abstract. Source: Journal of the American Chemical Society (2022). DOI: 10.1021/jacs.2c05510

Based on a conductive metal-organic technology — or framework — devised by the researchers, the team determined that they could precisely embed the framework into fabrics by employing a copper precursor that enabled the team to design patterns and fill in tiny gaps and holes between threads.

Once developed, the team tested the framework technology, finding that it converted the toxin nitric oxide into nitrite and nitrate, and converted the poisonous, flammable gas hydrogen sulfide into copper sulfide. Further, the team reported that capturing and converting these toxic materials was still possible after standard wear and tear and washing.

The researchers suggest that the framework could potentially be applied to sensors on protective clothing or incorporated into filters.

"This new method of deposition means that the electronic textiles could potentially interface with a broader range of systems because they're so robust," the researchers explained. "This technological advance paves the way for other applications of the framework's combined filtration and sensing abilities that could be valuable in biomedical settings and environmental remediation."

The coating is detailed in the article, Fabrication of Multifunctional Electronic Textiles Using Oxidative Restructuring of Copper into a Cu-Based Metal-Organic Framework, which appears in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

To contact the author of this article, email mdonlon@globalspec.com