Sensor textiles

Bandage with a pH indicator that allows monitoring of wound healing

Color as an Indicator

When fabrics and fibers used in wound-dressing materials are functionalized with indicator dyes, they can reveal the progress of wound healing, for example, by indicating changes in the oxygen content or pH, or potentially dangerous bacterial growth. Furthermore, clothing that changes color can signal high losses of water or electrolytes. This can be of great importance for people who have difficulties describing their condition, such as the elderly or young children. Indicator dyes can also be combined with technical textiles to detect, for instance, moisture or mold in buildings. The actual measurement can also be carried out using optical fibers, which are woven into the textile structure.

The research group Sensor Systems develops new indicator dyes and pigments that can be stably integrated in textile materials using, for example, the Foulard process or screen printing. All materials are tested for their stability when sterilized through exposure to gamma radiation, steam or ethylene oxide, and when washed. In addition to clearly changing their visible color, the sensor-containing textiles can be combined with optical measurement modules available at the institute. Due to this, precise data on concentrations of particular analytes can be collected. The main task of the research group is to apply its well-founded expertise in cooperation with corporate partners to develop successful products.

Indicator Test Strips for Food Products and Wound Dressings

We develop color reagent test strips that can be integrated in food packaging to indicate the quality of fish and meat. Food spoilage, resulting in the production of biogenic amines, produces a color change in the test strip. This color change can be detected with the naked eye. If necessary, it can be detected with the help of smartphones and quantified. Analog sensor materials are incorporated into wound dressings and should allow continuous monitoring of the wound healing process.

Safety in the Workplace

New technologies embedded in textiles allow the detection of toxic gases in the workplace, or warn of exposure to toxic chemicals in the laboratory.