Tricia Carmichael and doctoral student Yunyun WuChemistry professor Tricia Carmichael and doctoral student Yunyun Wu display samples of fabric bearing conductive coatings of gold.

UWindsor researchers create wearable tech for the golden age

Tricia Carmichael’s research group has cleared a major wearable technology hurdle by creating conductive fabric that looks and feels like real clothing. Using a chemical process, they deposit a nanometre-thick gold coating onto the fibres of ordinary fabric, so the smart electronic device can move, be stretched and washed — while remaining conductive.

“People don’t want to feel, or even really see the technology so the vision for wearable electronics involves creating an imperceptible boundary between humans and the device,” says Dr. Carmichael, professor of chemistry and biochemistry.

“We used a chemical approach to actually coat individual fabric fibres with gold to get conductive pathways imbedded in the structure of the fabric, which is the ultimate integration. By merely weaving silver thread or fine wires through fabric, you will get breakage and potentially uncomfortable clothes.”

Combining conducting materials with textiles is challenging because knitted textiles are porous. The group used a low-cost method called electroless nickel immersion gold plating, a solution-based technique commonly employed in printed circuit board fabrication. This process deposits a gold coating over the individual textile fibers, producing a highly conductive textile that retains the softness and stretchability of the knitted fabric.

The team ran the material through rigorous tests to ensure it remained durable through normal wear and tear.

Doctoral candidate Yunyun Wu immersed the gold-coated textile in a salt solution to simulate exposure to sweat, and then subjected it the laundry cycle. After washing with ordinary laundry detergent, she rinsed it out and put it in the oven to simulate a dryer. There was minimal change in electrical resistance after each step.

“Even my mother got involved. We wanted to demonstrate wearability, so my mother sewed one of the gold patches onto exercise pants and my student went for a five-kilometer run,” says Carmichael. “We measured electrical properties before and after to show minimal change — this is truly a wearable technology.”

As part of the research project, the team also created a self-illuminating fabric. Using additional chemical processes the gold fabric was able to emit light on its own to become an electroluminescent fabric.

“Our fabric self-illuminates, so even in low light or poor visibility conditions, this self-illuminated safety apparel would be easily seen,” says Carmichael. “Unlike the reflective tape commonly found on safety vests worn by outside workers or cyclists, which requires the external light of a headlight to light it up, you’d be glowing wearing our self-illumination strip.

“This is much safer and is a great integration of function into fabric.”

The all-female scientist research team consists of Tricia Carmichael, Wu and doctoral candidates Sara Mechael and Yiting Chen. They published their findings, Solution Deposition of Conformal Gold Coatings on Knitted Fabric for E-Textiles and Electroluminescent Clothing, in the journal Advanced Materials Technologies. Last summer, Wu won the RSC Material Horizons Poster Prize for her research on making devices for wearable electronics out of fabric at the Canadian Society of Chemistry’s 2017 conference and exhibition.

Carmichael says that future applications of this technology will be with medical devices and biometrics. The next phase of research includes expanding the study to include other fabrics besides polyester, such as nylon and spandex. She would also like to scale up to larger equipment to imbue already made clothing with these devices.

Sara Elliott

Brian Aldington and Matthew Saby of die set manufacturer Anchor Danly enjoy a tour by grad student John Magliaro of the structural engineering testing lab, Friday in the Centre for Engineering Innovation.Brian Aldington and Matthew Saby of die set manufacturer Anchor Danly enjoy a tour by grad student John Magliaro of the structural engineering testing lab, Friday in the Centre for Engineering Innovation.

Engineering school invites industry to explore research capacity

The UWindsor Faculty of Engineering showcased its research expertise for representatives of more than 40 industrial concerns Friday during what organizers plan on making an annual event.

The Engineering Research Open House offered laboratory demonstrations and tours as well as formal presentations on available government funding and fostering successful partnerships between academics and businesses.

“The time has come for us to show who we are and what we do,” said Majid Ahmadi, associate dean for research and graduate studies. “We cannot keep secret what capabilities we have.”

The event engaged faculty members and graduate students in explaining their work to the visitors, which he hopes will lead to additional meaningful co-operation with industry.

“We are not just sitting in an ivory tower,” Dr. Ahmadi said. “We are in the business of educating students, preparing them for the professional market. This event not only showed potential partners what we are capable of, it gave our students a chance to hear from employers about the needs of industry.”

Brian Aldington, an engineer at the die set manufacturer Anchor Danly, said he enjoyed the opportunity to see the research facilities in the Centre for Engineering Innovation: “It’s very impressive looking” he said as he gazed up at the strong wall in the structural engineering testing lab.

Melanie Drescher and Ana-Maria GramisteanuBelle River District High School students Melanie Drescher and Ana-Maria Gramisteanu discuss arguments for and against raising the age of majority in preparation for their opening appearance in the debate tournament Friday at the Odette School of Business.

Business students welcome high school debaters

Holding the Odette Debate Tournament is a great way to promote the business school, says Mark Laschuk. A volunteer on the team that hosted about 100 competitors from 12 local high schools, he says the event gives those at the university level a chance to use the skills they develop in the classroom.

“It’s totally student-run and takes a lot of organization,” says Laschuk, also a captain for the team which represents the Odette School of Business in university-level debate. “Plus it’s a great way to get involved in the debate community and foster the future.”

Erin McMahon, a Grade 9 student at Sandwich Secondary School, says she joined her school’s club to help overcome her natural shyness.

“I wanted to come out of my bubble and try something I normally wouldn’t,” she says. “I like to meet the students from other schools and talk — and think — about an issue in new ways.”

Her coach Jarrod Ruston (BComm 2003) teaches business at Sandwich and is an alumnus of the University of Windsor. He likes to see the Odette students reaching out to engage with their high school counterparts.

“This event gets my students on campus,” he says. “They get to see what university is like and to participate in learning outside the classroom.”

Provost’s monthly contest to investigate undergraduate research

Undergraduate students at the University of Windsor enjoy many opportunities to engage in some of the ground-breaking research on campus, says provost Douglas Kneale.

Many work with professors to tackle important issues, investigate great ideas, and solve problems, while others produce fascinating original works and products through hands-on creation or performance.

“Once upon a time, it seemed that only professors did research,” Dr. Kneale says, “but now we integrate discovery in all its forms into the curricular and co-curricular experiences of our students.”

He recalls delivering his first public conference paper as an undergraduate.

“It was a comparative study of two 19th-century literary texts in what we call the locodescriptive or topographical genre,” Kneale says. “I can’t recall how it went over with the audience, but I sure remember the effect it had on me.”

Hence his Question of the Month for March 2018: If you’ve been involved in undergraduate research, what is the effect it has had on you?

The question looks forward to March 22 and 23, when the University will hold its annual UWill Discover conference. Designed to showcase the research, scholarship, and creative activities UWindsor undergrads engage in each year, the event provides students an opportunity dear to Kneale’s heart.

Students, faculty, and staff are invited to submit a response to the Question of the Month to by March 31. As always, the most thoughtful respondent will win a University of Windsor hoodie.

Sara Santarossa, Elizabeth Ismail, Laura ChittleLaura Chittle and Elizabeth Ismail of the GATA Network flank kinesiology PhD student Sara Santarossa, one of the 2017 honorees for educational practice.

Awards to recognize instructional contributions of graduate and teaching assistants

The Centre for Teaching and Learning has issued a call for nominations for the 2018 GATA Awards, recognizing the contributions made by graduate and teaching assistants to the University’s learning environment.

The centre will confer two GA/TA Awards for Educational Practice and one GA/TA Award for Educational Leadership.

“GAs and TAs can benefit tremendously from this experience,” says GATA Network co-ordinator Laura Chittle. “The nomination process allows for self-reflection and encourages you to think about your teaching in a scholarly way, thereby guiding future teaching and professional decisions.”

Sara Santarossa, a doctoral candidate in kinesiology, won for educational practice in 2017.

“Receiving this award is not only humbling and helps to verify that how I act and what I do as a GA makes an impact, but it allows the rest of the University to see what we do in HK,” she says. “How we teach and learn. How we care about each and every student.”

Details — including criteria, eligibility, and the nomination process and forms — are available on the centre’s website. The deadline for nominations is May 22 at 5 p.m. Direct questions or comments to Pierre Boulos at

Find more information about services and resources offered by the GATA Network on the CTL webpage and on the network’s blog, Facebook, and Twitter.

Daphne MarlattA reading Monday by acclaimed poet Daphne Marlatt is free and open to the public.

Reading to feature Vancouver-based writer

West coast poet and novelist Daphne Marlatt will read from her work during a free public appearance in Vanier Hall’s Katzman Lounge on Monday, March 5, at 4 p.m.

Marlatt’s many titles include StevestonThe GivenLiquidities: Vancouver Poems Then and Now, and the novel Ana Historic. UWindsor creative writing professor Susan Holbrook edited the 2017 collection Intertidal, which features poetry from 16 published collections, including Marlatt’s perceptual and Vancouver-centric work of the 1970s, her feminist writing of the 1980s, her later collaborative work, and her explorations of environment.

Monday’s reading is sponsored by the English department with support from the Canada Council for the Arts.