Journal of Colloid and Interface Science, Vol.586, 120-134, 2021
Electrically conductive cotton fabric coatings developed by silica sol-gel precursors doped with surfactant-aided dispersion of vertically aligned carbon nanotubes fillers in organic solvent-free aqueous solution
Hypothesis: From the end of the twentieth century, the growing interest in a new generation of wearable electronics with attractive application for military, medical and smart textiles fields has led to a wide investigation of chemical finishes for the production of electronic textiles (e-textiles). Experiments: Herein, a novel method to turn insulating cotton fabrics in electrically conductive by the deposition of three-dimensional hierarchical vertically aligned carbon nanotubes (VACNT) is proposed. Two VACNT samples with different length were synthesized and then dispersed in 4-dodecylbenzenesulfonic acid combined with silica-based sol-gel precursors. The dispersed VACNT were separately compounded with a polyurethane thickener to obtain homogeneous spreadable pastes, finally coated onto cotton surfaces by the "knife-over-roll" technique. Findings: Shorter VACNT-based composite showed the best electrical conductivity, with a sheet resistance value less than 4.0 . 10(4) +/- 6.7 . 10(3) Omega/sq. As demonstrated, developed e-textiles are suitable for application as humidity sensing materials in wearable smart textiles by exhibiting adequate response time for end-users and repeatability at several exposure cycles, still maintaining excellent flexibility. The proposed environmentally-friendly and cost-effective method can be easily widened to the scalable production of CNT-containing conductive flexible coatings, providing additional support to the development of real integration between electronics and textiles. (C) 2020 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.