Future applications of this technology could include embedding antennas or LEDs into fabrics. Minor modifications could eventually allow clothing to monitor vital signs, exertion, or respiratory rate. The technology could even be used in military uniforms. “We demonstrated with a collaborator a few years ago that carbon nanotube fibers are better at dissipating energy on a per-weight basis than Kevlar, and that was without some of the gains that we’ve had since in tensile strength,” Rice graduate student Lauren Taylor, lead author of the study, explained.  

“We see that, after two decades of development in labs worldwide, this material works in more and more applications,” said Matteo Pasquali, Rice University’s Brown School of Engineering lab chemical and biomolecular engineer, said. “Because of the combination of conductivity, good contact with the skin, biocompatibility and softness, carbon nanotube threads are a natural component for wearables.”