Smart fabrics remain a promising market opportunity, however one that has not lived up to its potential yet. One of the key issues with current smart fabrics lies in the production methods and the strategy to impart functionalities. These rely on the integration of meshes of rigid electronics, or arrays of conductive yarns on soft mats or tissues. This heavily affects the fabrication and connection, costs, robustness and user’s experience of current smart fabrics. The SENFLEX project proposes a disruptive solution where the functionalities of smart fabrics come from fibers themselves. During his ERC Starting grant project "FLOWTONICS", the PI demonstrated that some thermoplastic elastomers could be co-drawn with other materials such as liquid metals, polymer nanocomposites or optical materials, into long functional fibers. He and his team could in particular develop truly smart and flexible fibers called SenFlex, that can be elastically deformed and sense the imposed mechanical constraints in unprecedented ways. SenFlex fibers are simple to fabricate at large scale and can be integrated in a variety of fabrics. They can also be imparted with novel robust and truly distributed sensing designs that require little electrical connections and exhibit low power consumption, paving the way towards smart fabrics with advanced functionalities at drastically reduced costs. In the SENFLEX project, we will assess the commercial feasibility of SenFlex fibers that have the potential to disrupt the € 5 billion smart fabrics market. We will investigate the market and scalability of our technology for several key applications. Our final deliverables are large-scale prototypes with proven industrial scalability and a business plan that describes our go-to-market strategy, business potential and product development approach. The prototypes and business plan will be used to convince strategic partners and investors for the next step towards commercialization.
DNA analysis will become an important clinical tool in identification the composition of microbial species living in the gut. The most dominant technique at the time is based on PCR amplification of the 16s rDNA gene and subsequent sequencing of the variable region in the gene. This method however is limited in the amount of detail it provides and is notoriously susceptible to primer bias. Furthermore, due to the requirement of a PCR machine and sequencer the technique is too expensive and time consuming for a clinical setting. Over the past few years nanopores have been heralded as a cheap alternative for biomolecular analysis. Specifically solid-state nanopores, which consist of a small pore in a solid membrane, have the potential for cost-effective mass-production in cleanroom facilities. Furthermore, since these pores can detect double stranded DNA they can easily be used for analysis of DNA maps. In this proposal I suggest to use DNA mapping with solid state nanopores. The basic idea is to sequence-specifically label DNA molecules using DNA Methyltransferases and synthetic analogues of the natural cofactor S-adenosyl-methionine. The pattern of labels attached to the DNA is unique for the underlying sequence. In my Ph.D. I used this method to transfer fluorescent dyes to the DNA and subsequently extracted the DNA map using super resolution fluorescence microscopy. In this case, the attached label will induce a current-drop when the DNA molecule translocates through the channel. The extracted current-trace will then be converted to a DNA map in basepairs and can be used to match to a real sequence. This proposed method can be used to identify genomic elements and eventually be used to recognize species, for a fraction of the cost of 16s rDNA sequencing.