Innovation That Matters

Adding a coating of MXene to fabrics gives them the ability to block electromagnetic interference | Photo source Drexel University

Fabric acts as wearable Faraday cage


Researchers have come up with a fabric that can block electromagnetic interference

Spotted: Researchers at Drexel University’s College of Engineering have created a fabric that can block the effects of residual electromagnetic fields, which are produced by electronic devices themselves. Users notice these effects as a buzz, or a slowing down in a device’s function. The interference is usually a momentary inconvenience, but as mobile and connected technology becomes more prevalent, these moments are becoming more frequent.

The researchers coated fabric in MXene, a coating that can be sprayed, like ink or paint, onto fabric. The MXene can absorb and reflect electromagnetic waves, so it protects both the gadget and the user from the effects of electromagnetic fields. This includes microwave radiation – like that used to sicken diplomats in Cuba. 

MXenes and other materials that block electromagnetic waves were previously used by people who feared that high-tech thieves could scan or copy credit cards, passports or hack into contactless devices. Many people began putting these devices into special protective bags. Although these fears were overblown, the fact that electromagnetic waves can slow down devices may well cause people to seek out EM protection once again.

According to Yury Gogotsi, PhD, who led research into wearable MXene, “Wearable devices will need shielding from the electromagnetic interference (EMI) regularly produced by mobile devices, and that shielding should be integrated as part of the garment. We have known for some time that MXene has the ability to block electromagnetic interference better than other materials, but this discovery shows that it can effectively adhere to fabrics and maintain its unique shielding capabilities.”

With electronic devices everywhere, the risk of EM interference is certainly growing. However, at Springwise we have also seen a number of innovations that aim to use electromagnetic fields for tasks such as recharging drones in mid-flight and monitoring blood pressure and heart rate from a distance.

Written By: Lisa Magloff

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