February 29, 2024

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Spider-Inspired Fibres for Smart Tech Applications

Image credit: news.nus.edu.sg

A group of researchers led by Assistant Professor Tan Swee Ching from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at the National University of Singapore (NUS) – College of Design and Engineering have created a novel method for creating soft fibres that have these three essential characteristics and can also be easily recycled to create new fibres.

The method was inspired by how spiders spin silk to make webs and to address the rising demand for smart textile electronics, Asst Prof Tan cited that technologies for creating soft fibres should be straightforward, effective, and sustainable. It has been shown that soft fibres produced by a spinning technique inspired by spiders are adaptable for a range of smart technology applications.

The traditional artificial spinning processes used to create synthetic fibres demand a lot of energy, chemicals, pressure, and sophisticated machinery. Additionally, the resultant fibres often serve only a few purposes.

In contrast, the spinning of spider silk produces strands that are robust and adaptable at room temperature and pressure. The NUS team made the decision to mimic this natural spinning process to produce one-dimensional (1D) functional soft fibres that are robust, elastic, and electrically conductive to address the present technological hurdles. They discovered two distinct procedures for producing spider silk that they might imitate.

The phase separation-enabled ambient (PSEA) spinning technique was invented by the team after recreating the two processes. The soft fibres were produced by spinning a viscous gel solution of polyacrylonitrile (PAN) and silver ions known as PANSion that had been dissolved in the typical solvent dimethylformamide (DMF).

“It is far more difficult to fabricate 1D soft fibres with seamless integration of all-around capabilities and needs complex production or numerous post-treatment methods. This ground-breaking technique meets the unmet requirement for a straightforward but effective spinning strategy that yields useful 1D soft fibres with unified mechanical and electrical properties,” said Asst Prof Tan.

Additional molecular testing of the PANSion soft fibres validated their electrical conductivity and demonstrated that the silver ions contained in the PANSion gel contributed to the soft fibres’ electrical conductivity. The team concluded that PANSion soft fibres satisfy all the necessary criteria to make them adaptable and possibly useful in a variety of smart technology applications.

The team used a variety of applications, including communication and temperature sensing, to show the abilities of the PANSion soft fibres. An interactive glove that served as an example of a smart gaming glove was made using PANSion fibres. The glove could recognise human hand gestures when it was attached to a computer interface, allowing a user to play easy games.

Electrical signal variations that might be used as a method of communication like Morse code could also be detected by pansion fibres. These fibres also had the ability to detect temperature changes, which may be exploited to shield robots from surroundings with high temperatures. Additionally, PANSion fibres were woven into a smart face mask to track the user’s breathing patterns.

In addition to the numerous possible uses of PANSion soft fibres, this ground-breaking discovery also scores highly in terms of sustainability. By dissolving PANSion fibres in DMF, it is possible to turn them into a gel solution once more for the purpose of spinning new fibres.

This innovative spider-inspired technique for spinning fibres uses substantially less energy and chemical input than other fibre-spinning techniques now in use.

The research team will keep working to increase the sustainability of PANSion soft fibres across every stage of production, from the raw ingredients to recycling the finished product, as a result of this innovative discovery.

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Qlik’s vision is a data-literate world, where everyone can use data and analytics to improve decision-making and solve their most challenging problems. A private company, Qlik offers real-time data integration and analytics solutions, powered by Qlik Cloud, to close the gaps between data, insights and action. By transforming data into Active Intelligence, businesses can drive better decisions, improve revenue and profitability, and optimize customer relationships. Qlik serves more than 38,000 active customers in over 100 countries.

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CTC Global Singapore, a premier end-to-end IT solutions provider, is a fully owned subsidiary of ITOCHU Techno-Solutions Corporation (CTC) and ITOCHU Corporation.

Since 1972, CTC has established itself as one of the country’s top IT solutions providers. With 50 years of experience, headed by an experienced management team and staffed by over 200 qualified IT professionals, we support organizations with integrated IT solutions expertise in Autonomous IT, Cyber Security, Digital Transformation, Enterprise Cloud Infrastructure, Workplace Modernization and Professional Services.

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Planview has one mission: to build the future of connected work. Our solutions enable organizations to connect the business from ideas to impact, empowering companies to accelerate the achievement of what matters most. Planview’s full spectrum of Portfolio Management and Work Management solutions creates an organizational focus on the strategic outcomes that matter and empowers teams to deliver their best work, no matter how they work. The comprehensive Planview platform and enterprise success model enables customers to deliver innovative, competitive products, services, and customer experiences. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, with locations around the world, Planview has more than 1,300 employees supporting 4,500 customers and 2.6 million users worldwide. For more information, visit www.planview.com.

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SIRIM is a premier industrial research and technology organisation in Malaysia, wholly-owned by the Minister​ of Finance Incorporated. With over forty years of experience and expertise, SIRIM is mandated as the machinery for research and technology development, and the national champion of quality. SIRIM has always played a major role in the development of the country’s private sector. By tapping into our expertise and knowledge base, we focus on developing new technologies and improvements in the manufacturing, technology and services sectors. We nurture Small Medium Enterprises (SME) growth with solutions for technology penetration and upgrading, making it an ideal technology partner for SMEs.

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HashiCorp provides infrastructure automation software for multi-cloud environments, enabling enterprises to unlock a common cloud operating model to provision, secure, connect, and run any application on any infrastructure. HashiCorp tools allow organizations to deliver applications faster by helping enterprises transition from manual processes and ITIL practices to self-service automation and DevOps practices. 

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IBM is a leading global hybrid cloud and AI, and business services provider. We help clients in more than 175 countries capitalize on insights from their data, streamline business processes, reduce costs and gain the competitive edge in their industries. Nearly 3,000 government and corporate entities in critical infrastructure areas such as financial services, telecommunications and healthcare rely on IBM’s hybrid cloud platform and Red Hat OpenShift to affect their digital transformations quickly, efficiently and securely. IBM’s breakthrough innovations in AI, quantum computing, industry-specific cloud solutions and business services deliver open and flexible options to our clients. All of this is backed by IBM’s legendary commitment to trust, transparency, responsibility, inclusivity and service.

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