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Picture of the Day

Introducing the latest in textiles: Soft hardware

The latest development in textiles and fibers is a kind of soft hardware that you can wear: cloth that has electronic devices built right into it. National Science Foundation-funded researchers have now embedded high-speed, optoelectronic semiconductor devices, including light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and diode photodetectors, within fibers that were then woven into soft, washable fabrics and made into communication systems. This marks the achievement of a long-sought goal of creating "smart" fabrics by incorporating semiconductor devices -- the key ingredient of modern electronics -- which until now was the missing piece for making fabrics with sophisticated functionality. This discovery, the researchers say, could unleash a new "Moore's Law" for fibers -- in other words, a rapid progression in which the capabilities of fibers would grow rapidly and exponentially over time, just as the capabilities of microchips have grown over decades.

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