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A major obstacle towards integrating electronic functionality into fabrics is the portable power supply required. This is why we also specialise in energy harvesting: the conversion of ambient energy present in the environment into electricity. Energy harvesters do not have the energy density (energy stored for a given volume) of a battery but offer the attraction of an integrated power supply that will last the lifetime of the application and will not require recharging or replacement.
In order to manufacture demonstrator devices and prototypes, we have perfected several different fabrication techniques including thick film printing, inkjet printing, UV curing and sacrificial etching as well as the technology to make a variety of functional inks and pastes. The fabrication techniques we use are capable of depositing a wide range of materials and are low-cost, repeatable, flexible, suitable for high throughput production and use relatively inexpensive equipment. Using these techniques, we are able to print up to six layers with high precision and have demonstrated several novel devices such as the world’s first screen-printed watch display on fabric and the first ever all-printed active electrode array on fabric for ECG health monitoring.
We are an interdisciplinary group of researchers who use knowledge in chemistry, electronics, design, physics and engineering in order to innovate. Our dedicated thick-film processing lab, part of the Zepler Institute cleanroom complex, is furnished with state-of-the-art fabrication and characterisation equipment, enabling us to solve the toughest of challenges in the world of smart materials.
For more information on our current projects please visit www.eee.ecs.soton.ac.uk