Tue. Jun 18th, 2019

A dazzling invention of ‘threads’ that change color when detecting various gases

A new fabrication method that produces dyed threads that transform its color at detection of various gases has been developed by the engineers of Tufts University.

Published in the journal “Scientific Reports”, the researchers showed that camera phones or even through eyes one can detect a change of color of thread. Gas-detecting threads are not only smart but also washable, reusable, and reasonably priced safety asset which could be utilized in the various work areas like the military, workplace, etc.

The study employed a manganese-based dye, methyl red, MnTPP, & BTB to certify their concept. The corresponding author of the research, Sameer Sonkusale said: “The dyes we used work in different ways, so we can detect gases with different chemistries. But since we are using a method that effectively traps the dye to the thread, rather than relying so much on binding chemistry, we have more flexibility to use dyes with a wide range of functional chemistries to detect different types of gases.”

Tested dyes transformed their colors according to the concentration of gas present which was measured using spectroscopic methods. Smartphones are used to read out and measure color changes. Sonkusale said: “That would allow us to scale up the detection to measure many analytes at once, or to distinguish analytes with unique colorimetric signatures.”

The threads functioned even underwater, identifying the presence of dissolved Ammonia. Lead author, Rachael Owyeung stated: “While the PDMS sealant is hydrophobic and keeps water off the thread, the dissolved gases can still reach the dye to be quantified. As dissolved gas sensors, we imagine smart fabrics detecting carbon dioxide or other volatile organic compounds during oil and gas exploration as one possible application.”

The researchers said that using the dye underwater or repeatedly washing it does not make the dye thinner. Hence, the fabric is very reliable when the need for consistent measurable detection over and over again.