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Scientists invent threads to detect gases when woven into clothing

Engineers have developed a novel fabrication method to create dyed threads that change color when they detect a variety of gases. The researchers demonstrated that the threads can be read visually, or even more precisely by use of a smartphone camera, to detect changes of color due to analytes -- chemicals subject to analysis -- as low as 50 parts per million. Woven into clothing, the smart, gas-detecting threads could provide a re-usable, washable and affordable safety asset in medical, workplace, military and rescue environments, the researchers said. The study describes the fabrication method and its ability to extend to a wide range of dyes and detection of complex gas mixtures. While not replacing the precision of electronic devices commonly used to detect volatile gases, incorporation of gas detection into textiles could enable an equipment-free readout, without the need for specialized training. Such an approach could make the technology accessible to a general workforce or low-resource communities, which could benefit from the information the textiles would provide.

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