Nanotechnology is considered one of the most promising technologies for the 21st century. On the one hand, there is the economic impact of new and improved products. On the other hand, a strong contribution of nanotechnologies is expected in reducing the ecological impact and the consumption of natural resources. Nanotechnology has the potential to improve the efficiency of a number of existing consumer and industrial products and is expected to have a substantial impact on the development of new applications.
What is the nano?
The prefix “nano” indicates that at least one of the dimensions of these materials is of the order of 1 to 100 nanometers. A nanometer (nm) is one billionth of a meter, or about 1 / 80,000 the diameter of a human hair, or 10 times the diameter of a hydrogen atom.
Nanotechnology is referred to when nanoscale materials are produced (e.g. defined by their thickness, particle size or other structural characteristics) or when the nature of a process involves the use of nanoscale materials (e.g. soil -gel). Nanotechnology research and development aims to understand and create improved materials, devices and systems that exploit these new properties.
At the nanoscale, the physical, chemical and biological properties of materials differ in fundamental and valuable ways from the properties of individual atoms and molecules as well as bulk matter. For example, ceramics, which are normally brittle, can easily be made deformable if the grain size is reduced to the order of nanometers and if thin films or fibers are produced. Another example is the fact that for nanometric particles, the color of the material becomes dependent on the particle size instead of its intrinsic properties, for example gold having a particle size of 1nm exhibits a red color. The ability to customize the physical properties of materials gives nanotechnology a potential impact in a wide variety of disciplines.
Nanotechnology in textiles
The wave of nanotechnology has shown enormous potential in the textile and clothing industry which is normally very traditional. The future success of nanotechnology in textile applications lies in areas where new functionalities are combined into durable and multifunctional textile systems without compromising the inherent favorable textile properties, including ease of processing, flexibility, washability and softness.
A wide variety of new nanotechnology textiles are already on the market right now. Examples of industries where nanotechnology-enhanced textiles are already seeing some applications include the sports industry, skin care, space technology and apparel as well as materials technology for better protection in extreme environments. . The use of nanotechnology enables textiles to become multifunctional and produce fabrics with special functions, including antibacterial, anti-UV, easy to clean, water repellent, stain resistant and odor resistant. In many cases, smaller amounts of additive are also needed, saving resources.
Perhaps one of the most widely recognized applications today is the sharkskin swimsuit in which Olympic swimming champion Michael Phelps set several new world records. This suit contains a plasma coated layer to repel water molecules, designed to help the swimmer glide through the water with minimal resistance.
One of the applications of nanotechnology in the textile industry is in polymeric materials for the production of conventional fibers such as polyester, polyamide and polypropylene at the nanoscale. Nanofibers have good properties such as high specific surface area, small fiber diameter, good filtration properties and high permeability. Common production methods are electrospinning or two-component extrusion (island-in-the-sea technique).
There is significant potential for profitable applications of nanotechnology in textiles. Several applications of nanotechnology can be extended to achieve improved machine performance and textile manufacturing processes. Nanotechnology overcomes the limitations of applying conventional methods to impart certain properties to textile materials. There is no doubt that over the next few years, nanotechnologies will penetrate all areas of the textile industry. However, there are still many elements to be taken into consideration before the industrial commercialization of nanoproducts. First, there is the issue of costs, which in some cases inhibits the development of nanoparticle coatings and makes mass production economically less viable. Besides the cost, a key point is the question of the impacts of the uncontrolled release of nanoparticles. In general, the state of research on health and environmental issues can be summed up to suggest that the current results of impact studies are limited. In the future, interdisciplinary research collaborations will lead to significant advances in desirable attributes of textile applications.
Further reading on the application of nanotechnology in textile applications
- SC Tjong, Materials Science and Engineering R53 (2006) 73-197.
- Mulcahy E ,; Nano 9 (2008) 4-5.
- Sparkle Intertek Labtest, Nanotechnology in the Textile and Clothing Industry, Volume TX 001 (2006).
- Kathivelu S., D’Souza L., Dhurai B. Indian Journal of Science and Technology 1 (2008).
- Wong YWH, Yuen CWM, Leung MYS, Ku SKA, Lam HLI, Autex Research Journal 6  (2006).
- Sawhney APS, Cordon B., Singh KV, Pang SS, Li G., Hui D., Textile Research Journal 78  (2008) 731-739.
- Qian L., Hinestroza JP, Journal of Textile and Apparal. Technology and management 4  (2004).
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