TUTCRIS - Tampereen teknillinen yliopisto


Decontamination of Wearable Textile Electrodes for Medical and Health Care Applications



KustantajaTampere University of Technology
ISBN (elektroninen)978-952-15-3547-5
ISBN (painettu)978-952-15-3538-3
TilaJulkaistu - 26 kesäkuuta 2015
OKM-julkaisutyyppiG4 Monografiaväitöskirja


NimiTampere University of Technology. Publication
KustantajaTampere University of Technology
ISSN (painettu)1459-2045


In the medical and health care environment ‘intelligent’ clothing must endure all the same treatments and procedures as standard hospital textile; that is laundry, disinfection and sterilization. The decontamination level depends on the end-use of the product. The smart garment system for long term body monitoring must be like any other technical underwear; fit well, be comfortable, elastic, vapor permeable, and have easy-care properties capable of enduring multiple cycles of laundry washing. Thus the use of man-made fibers, instead of traditionally used natural fibers, in a body monitoring garment would be more reasonable.

The research focuses on disinfected and sterilized textile electrodes which are applicable for long term body monitoring. As high elasticity, comfort and good vapor permeability are needed, the research concentrates on the electrical and mechanical properties of knitted sensors after sterilization, disinfection and water-repellent treatment. The most important mechanical features of elastic textile electrodes are elongation recovery and dimensional stability. Before sterilization the textile must be cleaned properly from body fluids like blood and sweat. Improving the easy-clean properties would consequently be desirable. By improving the stain repellent or easy cleaning properties, the need for washing can be decreased and a more protective, lower temperature program during laundry washing can be used. These factors not only save energy but also lengthen the lifetime of textile electronics.

The textile surface electric resistance, abrasion resistance, dimensional change and elastic properties following decontamination processes were studied, including the evaluation of water repellent-treated electrode properties. In addition, the mechanical properties of conventional knits and elastic woven bands were observed after treatment in order to assess their use in smart wearable systems.

In addition to electrodes, the research results can be applied to many other textile electronics components such as conductors, antennae, heat elements, switchers and detectors, because all these components can be achieved with same elements; conventional textile fibers combined with conductive fibers or coatings. The obvious application areas for body monitoring by using textile electrodes are hospitals, health care centers and medical research centers. The textile electrodes are more comfortable and invisible for long time body monitoring which is needed, for example, in rehabilitation after surgery or detection of chronic diseases, where they are more effective than conventional gel (Ag / AgCl) electrodes.

In conclusion it can be stated that silver-plated PA fiber in a knitted or woven structure with added repellent treatment provides a highly conductive and durable solution for wearable electronics in medical and health care applications. The steel fiber and textile mixture cannot tolerate mechanical stress caused by disinfection, washing, or repellent treatment. The knitted textile with silver coating cannot tolerate sterilization, either electrically or mechanically. Based on the results of the study, the use of woven bands as an electrode would be recommended instead of knitted material because they are dimensionally more stable. The electrode dimensional changes might negatively affect the measurement quality. On the other hand, the knitted electrodes have additional useful properties like softness and flexibility, thus compromises must be made in using textile electrodes in wearable technology. All materials in the study, woven and knitted, elastic and inelastic, coated and non –coated showed clear shrinkage in the sterilization process. However, using only one heat treatment makes them much more stable. For this reason it can be assumed that man-made fibers are more useful for medical products as they are more resistant to being sterilized or disinfected than are natural fibers. The elastane fiber can be used for improving bi-directional textile material recovery, but the unrecovered elongation as a function of sterilization must be considered. The variation in unrecovered elongation (stretching) might be extremely high and success depends on raw materials and textile structures.

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