When textile assumes an additional function specific to an adverse or extreme climate, job-environment or profession to enhance adaptability and/or productivity of the user over and above the conventional purpose, it may be regarded as Smart-Textile.
□ Climate such as superior comfort, protection from extreme climate at high altitudes, and other inhabitable territories;
□ Job environment such as protection from high voltage, fire, heat, radiations, chemical & biological toxins, deep water, and aerospace exposure, etc.;
□ Profession such as tools and devices for help in work. Such examples include communication devices, monitoring and recording devices integrated to textiles.
When the additional functionality changes with change in use conditions, then textile is regarded as Active Smart or Intelligent Smart-Textile.
Smart textile may be classified as per the following categories depending upon their functionality and adaptation to the changing situation.
(a) Passive Smart: Textile which provide additional feature in a passive mode i.e. irrespective of the change in the environment. For example, a highly insulating coat would remain insulating to the same degree irrespective of the outside temperature. Wide range of capabilities, including anti-microbial, anti-odour, anti-static, bullet proof are the other examples.
(b) Active Smart/ Intelligent: Textile which adapt their functionality to changing environment automatically. This may deal actively with a life threatening situation or to keep high comfort levels even in extreme environment changes.
Intelligent textile can also be used for technical applications such as bio-processing, biomedical, sensors and actuators in robotics, etc. where the textile material will change properties or shape with time or environment stimuli. In this area new concepts are being investigated where nanomaterials, electronics, phase change materials, and stimuli sensitive polymers are being integrated/converted into textile structures for active functionality.
Textile materials, due to their unique properties, are finding wide spread applications in a variety of new areas from biotechnology, medical, robotics, optoelectronics, automotive, aerospace, and construction materials, etc. These applications are opening new ways of looking at textile materials.
In order to develop smart or intelligent textile for novel applications in these areas, adaptation of new technologies and processes to develop novel textile materials has become necessary. Processes such as electro-spinning, electrospraying, nano-sol processing, self-assembly, plasma processing, encapsulation, architecturally regulated co-polymerization, and nano-emulsion polymerization, etc. are becoming important in textile research.
SMITA group is actively working in many of such areas to develop a variety of new technologies and then using them to develop innovative & smart textile materials suitable for industrial applications.