Colour-changing fibres for smart clothes

When we think about clothing, we usually think of it as something we wear to cover our body, convey our style and protect us from the environment. What if the cloth changes its visual appearance when you stretch your hand’... such mechanoresponsive material has enormous potential in a large range of transformative applications in the beauty and health industry.

Cholesteric Liquid Crystal Elastomer (CLCE) is a structurally coloured polymer system capable of changing its colour by mechanical deformation, due to the coupling of colour of helically aligned liquid crystal molecules and the viscoelasticity of rubber. Jan Lagerwall and his team at the University of Luxembourg created colour-changing CLCE fibres that can be easily sewn into the fabric.

The team developed a simple and scalable method to pull out fibres from CLCE precursor solution by adjusting the viscoelasticity of the solution. The colour of the fibres shifts continuously and reversibly from red to blue upon stretching.

Then, the researchers demonstrate the robustness of the CLCE fibres in garments by subjecting it to repeated stretching, machine washing and abrasion. The fibres remain colourful and mechanoresponsive. Such robust and colour-changing fibres open up numerous applications in wearable technology and other areas benefiting from autonomous strain sensing or detection of critically strong deformations.

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