Tricia Carmichael’s research into electronic textiles and wearable motion sensors has won her the Award for Outstanding Mid-Career Achievements from NanoOntario’s 2021 Awards in Nanoscience and Nanotechnology.
“My interest really comes in materials chemistry — I am interested in making things and solving problems in that area. It has the potential to make these amazing systems that can improve the quality of life for people,” says Dr. Carmichael.
“I have the scientific interest that is my love for materials chemistry as well as the desire to do something good for society and quality of life. I think wearable electronics has that potential.”
Carmichael’s team created an electroluminescent fabric that can emit light on its own, or self-illuminate, using chemical processes.
“In environments where visibility is poor, or people are working at night, our fabrics could help regular people, every day,” she says. “We have also created sensors that can help the aging population by monitoring mobility of joints and generating data to see if someone is getting better or worse.”
Carmichael has explored the possibilities of wearable electronics throughout her academic career, which began at the University of Windsor in 2005. Her latest research into light-emitting textiles earned her and her students the cover article in the journal, Matter.
“It is so fun to work in this area, you can use a lot of imagination and learn a lot of new things and you look at the world differently,” she says.
Carmichael says working with her students in the lab is the best part of her job and collaborating with them is extremely satisfying.
“I think that students really enjoy working in this space because no matter what their training is, you can come in with new ideas and think practically about the value of what you’re doing and then go do the fundamental science to make it happen.”
Carmichael says it feels good to have people value her work and it is gratifying to be recognized by her peers with this award.
“This honours what I do every day and what my students do every day, and it is good for all of us. This also highlights the support of the Faculty of Science, the University of Windsor, and my funding sources,” says Carmichael.
“To succeed, it truly takes support from so many people. I’d especially like to thank my husband who has been incredibly supportive of me throughout my career.”
Carmichael will host a virtual lecture of her research career on Feb. 17 through NanoOntario.