Uni creates glow-in-the-dark electric yarn

William Lee Innovation Centre unveils battery-powered textile yarns
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Researchers at The University of Manchester have developed battery-powered textile yarns that can be used to make clothing glow in the dark.

The yarns have been developed by the William Lee Innovation Centre, based in Manchester University's School of Materials, and have the potential to be incorporated into clothing worn by cyclists.

Retro-reflective strips depend on external light sources to make them visible and can be ineffective in low light situations.

WLIC's development is made from electroluminescent yarns. The yarn consists of an inner conductive core yarn, coated with electroluminescent ink - which means it emits light when an electric current is passed through it - and a protective transparent encapsulation, with an outer conductive yarn wrapped around it. Pic here.

When the EL yarn is powered with an inverter the resultant electrical field between the inner and outer conductor causes the electroluminescent coating to emit light. The emission of light occurs between the contact points between the outer yarn and the inner yarn.

Dr Tilak Dias, Head of the WLIC, said: "The EL yarn we have developed is less flexible than conventional yarns. But it is more flexible than current optical fibres that are incorporated within fabrics to provide illumination.

"EL yarn can be easily incorporated into a knitted or woven fabric and the resultant active illuminating fabric provides illumination when it is powered.

"The luminance of a single strand of the EL yarn is greater than that of photoluminescent glow yarns, which are currently used in some high visibility applications.

"Weaving or knitting the yarn in a particular manner, so that more yarn per unit area is achieved, improves the luminance of the EL yarn."

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