From Samurai Swords to Smart Fabrics

Samurai swords were made in an elaborate, repetitive process that was ritualized to ensure the integrity of the methodology. A piece of iron was heated in a forge and folded and flattened many times to create layers of iron and carbon and iron oxide that were formed into swords with strength, flexibility and able to hold a sharp edge.

“Physics is the knife that cuts into the grain of nature.
Fire, the flaming sword, is the knife that cuts below the visible structure into the stone.”
– Jacob Bronowski

[watch from 12:45 to 23:10 for the section on making Samurai swords – but the entire video is excellent]

Adding carbon to iron makes steel. Diamond is a crystalline version of carbon. Graphite is the form of carbon we use in pencils. Graphene is a single-atom thick sheet of graphite.

Here’s some more on graphene:

So, what is graphene good for?

We compose fabrics by interweaving threads of material to create flexible, versatile materials that we use for clothing, to cover furniture and floors and many other uses. We create threads by spinning fibers into long strands that stick together. We use carbon fibers to make thread with advanced properties such as: high strength, low weight, high temperature tolerance, and others. We use single-atom layers of graphite to make graphene, nanotubes, and nanoribbons which are light, strong and conduct electricity. We weave graphite into carbon filament fabric and combine it with resins and other substances to create composites with high strength to weight ratios and resistance to heat.

Research is being done to build circuits and even “chips” out of graphene. As our ability to work with graphene, carbon nanotubes and nanoribbons matures, we will be able to integrate electronics into fabrics. This means our clothing, our furniture and surfaces in our living environment will have electronic capability built into them. Graphene based audio-visual components built into fabrics will allow us to replace cameras and screens with fabrics that display images and capture similar input. Our living spaces will become dynamic, like desktop wallpapers and other active parts of our computing environment. Communications and information availability will be built in to every part of our lives.

Electronic Textiles
Printing Graphene With Ink-jets
Smart Colloids
Smart Dust
Utility Fog

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