Textile-based sensors for in-situ monitoring in electrochemical cells and biomedical applications




Hasanpour, Sadegh

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This work explores the blending of e-textile technology with the porous electrode of polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells (PEMFCs) and with smart wound patches to allow monitoring and in-situ diagnostics. This work includes contributions to understanding water transport and conductivity in the carbon cloth gas diffusion layer (GDL), and further developing thread-based relative humidity (RH) and temperature sensors, which can be sewn on a cloth GDL in PEMFCs. We also explore the application of the developed RH and temperature sensors in wearable biomonitoring. First, an experimental prototype is developed for evaluating water transport, thermal conductivity and electrical conductivity of carbon cloth GDLs under different hydrophobic coatings and compressions. Second, we demonstrate the addition of external threads to the carbon cloth GDL to (1) facilitate water transport and (2) measure local RH and temperature with a minimal impact on the physical, microstructural and transport properties of the GDL. We illustrate the roll-to-roll process for fabricating RH and temperature sensors by dip-coating commodity threads into a carbon nanotubes (CNTs) suspension. The thread-based sensors response to RH and temperature in the working environment of PEMFCs is investigated. As a proof-of-concept, the local temperature of carbon cloth GDL is monitored in an ex-situ experiment. Finally, we optimized the coating parameters (e.g. CNTs concentration, surfactant concentration and a number of dipping) for the thread-based sensors. The response of the thread-based sensors in room conditions is evaluated and shows a linear resistance decrease to temperature and a quadratic resistance increase to RH. We also evaluated the biocompatibility of the sensors by performing cell cytotoxicity and studying wound healing in an animal model. The novel thread-based sensors are not only applicable for textile electrochemical devices but also, show a promising future in wearable biomonitoring applications.



Gas diffusion layer, Temperature sensor, Relative humidity sensor, polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells, electrochemical devices, Wearable sensors