SEP 16, 2021 7:00 AM PDT

Your T-Shirt Could Soon Tell You if Your Heart Is Ok

WRITTEN BY: Tara Fernandez

Forget uncomfortable chest straps or clunky wristbands—thanks to a new innovation in nanotechnology, your t-shirt could one day help monitor your health. Researchers at Rice University created flexible carbon nanotube fibers that can easily be woven into clothing and serve as functional health monitors. The study was featured in the journal Nano Letters.

This new ‘smart thread’ conducts electrical impulses, is durable, and is even machine washable, seamlessly sewn into garments to generate a continuous electrocardiogram readout. The researchers could machine stitch the threads in zig-zag lines across a material, allowing the fabric to stretch and flex without breaking the nanotubes.

These novel sensors have to be placed snugly against the chest to pick up heart rate signals where they also act as electrodes, transmitting the readings wirelessly to a smartphone via Bluetooth. Electrocardiograms, also known as ECGs or EKGs, record electrical signals from the heart to check for the presence of possible heart conditions. In particular, this technique is used to diagnose conditions such as arrhythmias and coronary artery disease.

The nanotubes used in the platform are ultrathin (around the width of a single human hair), forcing the innovators to devise strategies of bundling them together to form strong, rope-like threads. According to one of the lead inventors, Lauren Taylor, the technique they ended up using was inspired by ropes used in model ships.

The nanotube thread’s creators say the innovation paves the way for new possibilities at the intersection of health technology and fashion. “Because of the combination of conductivity, good contact with the skin, biocompatibility, and softness, carbon nanotube threads are a natural component for wearables,” commented Matteo Pasquali, another scientist who worked on the carbon nanotubes.

 


 

About the Author
  • Tara Fernandez has a PhD in Cell Biology and has spent over a decade uncovering the molecular basis of diseases ranging from skin cancer to obesity and diabetes. She currently works on developing and marketing disruptive new technologies in the biotechnology industry. Her areas of interest include innovation in molecular diagnostics, cell therapies, and immunology. She actively participates in various science communication and public engagement initiatives to promote STEM in the community.
You May Also Like
MAY 18, 2021
Genetics & Genomics
Library Prep Methods for SARS-CoV-2 Sequencing: a Summary
MAY 18, 2021
Library Prep Methods for SARS-CoV-2 Sequencing: a Summary
As the SARS-CoV-2 virus continues to mutate, rapid sequencing of COVID-19-positive samples is more critical than ever. N ...
JUN 08, 2021
Neuroscience
Simple Blood Test Can Detect Depression and Underlying Neurodegeneration
JUN 08, 2021
Simple Blood Test Can Detect Depression and Underlying Neurodegeneration
Researchers led by King’s College London have found that levels of a protein known as neurofilament light chain (N ...
JUN 30, 2021
Clinical & Molecular DX
A Deep Learning Tool for Faster, Better Heart Disease Diagnoses
JUN 30, 2021
A Deep Learning Tool for Faster, Better Heart Disease Diagnoses
A new deep learning tool could help slash the time it takes to interpret cardiology scans to diagnose obstructive corona ...
JUL 22, 2021
Clinical & Molecular DX
"Smart Bandage" Keeps an Eye on Wounds
JUL 22, 2021
"Smart Bandage" Keeps an Eye on Wounds
Wounds are an ideal environment for microorganisms to thrive. Their presence can easily overwhelm immune defenses at the ...
SEP 16, 2021
Clinical & Molecular DX
Medical Opinions Are Often Divided, but Tech Can Bring Them Together
SEP 16, 2021
Medical Opinions Are Often Divided, but Tech Can Bring Them Together
Patients place their faith in medical professionals for making sound clinical decisions based on their diagnoses. But wh ...
OCT 19, 2021
Clinical & Molecular DX
Air Surveillance Technology Sniffs Out Coronaviruses in the Room
OCT 19, 2021
Air Surveillance Technology Sniffs Out Coronaviruses in the Room
Imagine walking into a party where people were socializing (unmasked) in a confined space. With the ongoing pandemic not ...
Loading Comments...