Stretchable Optical Fibers: Threads for Strain-Sensitive Textiles


C. K. Harnett, H. Zhao, and R. F. Shepherd, “Stretchable Optical Fibers: Threads for Strain-Sensitive Textiles,” Advanced Materials Technologies, vol. 2, no. 9, 2017.


Soft, stretchable, sewable, and strain-sensitive optical fibers are reported. Intrinsically stretchable optical waveguides capable of >100% strain are formed by coating a commercially available elastic urethane fiber (“Stretch Magic”) with a silicone cladding having a lower refractive index. These 1–2 mm diameter fibers can be attached to textiles using a sewing machine. Because the attaching threads create microbends in the fiber, the sewn fibers are prestrained for monotonic intensity-versus-strain behavior. Installed in a stretchable piece of athletic tape, they detect strains originating from changing muscle shapes during weight-bearing activity.