Ancient fabric tweaked for modern use

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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- U.S. researchers say chain-mail, once popular with medieval knights, may become the high-tech fabric of the future.

Scientists say the world's smallest chain-mail fabric, developed at the University of Illinois, holds promise for "fully engineered smart textiles," the university said in a release.

The fabric and the fabrication process, described in the Journal of Micromechanics and Microengineering, consists of a network of small rings about 500 microns in diameter and even smaller links about 400 microns long.

Chang Liu, a professor of electrical and computer engineering who designed the fabric with graduate student Jonathan Engel, said the mechanical and electrical properties could prove useful for the development of smart fabric and wearable electronic devices for pervasive computing.

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