Dr. Alexander Gumennik, director of the FAMES Lab was invited to Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Crane Division, for a distinguished lecture "Molten-Phase Fabrication of Smart Fibers for Military Applications" presenting VLSI-Fi technology and how ti can be beneficial to military applications.
Fibers and textiles are among the most ancient forms of human expression. Yet, it's only in the last few decades that yarns and fabrics began acquiring functionalities influential to human wellbeing beyond mere thermal regulation, mechanical protection, and decoration.
Smart, functional fibers and textiles are a booming interdisciplinary area of research that is transformative to multiple technological areas, from biomedical devices, through apparel and fashion, to composites for aerospace, automotive, and construction. Applications of smart fibers and textiles spanning but are not limited to energy harvesting and management, physiological monitoring and stimulation, brain-computer interfacing, active camouflaging, and data harvesting, processing, and communication.
However, the realization of high-performance systems in fibers remains a challenge due to the elusiveness of a universal material processing strategy that would allow wrapping a variety of dissimilar-material devices – electronic, photonic, ultrasonic, or magnetic, to name a few – into a fiber in an ordered, addressable, and scalable manner. Fibers & Additive Manufacturing Enabled Systems Laboratory (FAMES Lab) masters a proprietary technology to fabricate arbitrarily complex multimaterial 3D architectures internal to fibers. In this molten-phase assembly technology, dubbed "Very Large-Scale Integration for Fibers" (VLSI-Fi), the fiber-embedded system fabrication starts with defining the fiber cross-section through a thermal draw of the 3D printed preform, followed by the axial patterning of the fiber cores with a spatially coherent material selective capillary breakup, and finished by segregation-assisted crystallinity structuring upon cooling and solidification of the molten-phase assembled architectures.
In this lecture, the recent progress in substantiating VLSI-Fi as a technology that can deliver groundbreakingly impactful products will be laid out. For instance, VLSI-Fi is anticipated to deliver a new class of electroceutical bacteriostatic sutures, bondages, and sponges for point-of-care wound treatment on the battlefield. Furthermore, VLSI-Fi enables the materialization of sensory textiles, enhancing awareness in the maritime battlespace, which, imparted with energy harvesting and communication capabilities, can form floating fishnets with autonomous, all-around surveillance capabilities powered by the energy of ocean waves. Additionally, VLSI-Fi is expected to deliver fiber-photonics that intimately and efficiently interface with emerging high-performance computing platforms. In application, for instance, to secure quantum communication, it can provide fiber-photonics serving as Quantum Interconnect (QuIC), hybridizing the existing plethora of conventional quantum material platforms into a single information medium – "the Quantum Internet of Things" (QIoT).