Project summary:

Development of sensor textiles and sensor non-wovens for medical-analytical applications

The aim of the SmartColourTextiles project is to develop a technology for the highly stable coupling of indicator dyes and sensor pigments to fibres, yarns and fabrics. This allows textile and dressing materials to be specifically equipped with sensor properties that can be used in medical diagnostics. These materials are wash and temperature resistant, do not impair wearing comfort and can be used repeatedly.

MATERIALS has internationally outstanding experience in the development of optical sensor measuring instruments including the production of indicator dyes and their stable bonding to polymer materials. The targeted functional modification of textiles and non-wovens opens up the possibility of realizing technologically high-quality products with the diagnostics and dressing material industry.

  • Smart Textiles for textile manufacturers in the wellness, sports and ambient assisted living sectors
  • Smart wound dressings and cotton swabs for patients with chronic wounds
  • Indicator test strips for diapers, wipes and cosmetics
  • Modification of the textile fiber manufacturing process in the direction of sensor technology
  • Adaptation of optical modules and fiber optic measuring instruments to textiles/non-wovens

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Main Focus:

New indicator dyes are developed within the framework of the studio, e.g. in order to

  • metabolites of a bacterial infection in wounds (biogenic amines, hydrogen sulphide). A clear colour change of the dressing material can indicate when a therapy is necessary.
  • In the textile sector, sensor washcloths can indicate in colour that, for example, a washing solution is too alkaline for the skin of babies and will cause irritation.

In order to exclude contamination by dyes, covalent bonding of the indicator dyes to the textiles or non-wovens is of decisive importance for the use of SmartColourTextiles. For quantitative evaluation, the sensor textiles are additionally combined with optoelectronic evaluation units (fibre optics, smartphones).

In addition to the synthesis of new functional dyes, the production process of sensor textiles is also being researched:

  • Yarns and textiles are dyed directly, and new sensor pigments are mixed into the spinning solution before the fibres are spun.
  • For textile materials that cannot be dyed covalently (e.g. polyester), sensor pigments are embedded in binder polymers and processed by screen printing.
  • The electrospinning technology is used to produce nanofibers that show extremely rapid colour changes and high sensitivity.


Research portfolio:

  • Production of new indicator dyes for the analytes pH, Na+, Ca2+, Mg2+, amines and thiols and binding of indicator dyes to textile materials and non-wovens
  • Characterization of sensor materials on stability, color change, sensitivity, reversibility, washability, sterilizability, toxicity
  • Manufacture of sensor textiles for the determination of pH and electrolytes (Na+, Ca2+, Mg2+) in welding
  • Production of sensor wound dressing materials and indicator cotton swabs for the determination of pH, as well as metabolites of microbial colonisation (amines, thiols) for the purpose of controlling wound healing
  • Programming of Smartphones / Tablets for quantitative evaluation of colour changes
  • Development of a fiber optic system for measuring the color change within textiles or non-wovens

RTO Institute

Bay Zoltan Nonprofit Ltd. for Applied Research

RTO Contact

Dr. rer. nat. habil. Gerhard Mohr

+43 316 876-3404




Research Studios Austria (RSA)