Tougher than a bullet-proof vest yet synonymous with beauty and luxury, silk fibres are a masterpiece of nature whose remarkable properties have yet to be fully replicated in the laboratory.
Thanks to their amazing mechanical properties as well as their looks, silk fibres have been important materials in textiles, medical sutures, and even armour for 5,000 years.
Understanding more and more about the properties of matter means that new attributes can be imparted into textiles, enabled by nanotechnology. Here, Professor Kay Obendorf of Fibre Science at the College of Human Ecology, Cornell University, provides an overview of the amazing innovations in textiles for personal protection – with some other surprising applications!
Wonder textiles for trauma sensing and ballistic resistance.
It is well recognized that the applications of nanotechnology are related to the intrinsic properties of nanostructures and the effects they exhibit in whichever matrix materials they are embedded. This opens up seemingly endless opportunities to engineer and fabricate materials with new and improved properties, including mechanical strength, optical response, electrical and thermal conductivity and wear resistance. This article looks at some of the ground-breaking works carried out in the lab of Nicholas Kotov at the University of Michigan, and its exploitation by Nico Technologies Inc. Some of the applications include the design and engineering of new conductive materials with biosensing capabilities using clay nanosheets and carbon nanotubes, and thermally stable fibres and fabrics with potential applications as protective and ballistic-impact resistant materials.
Advances in carbon nanotube technologies are driving the generation of a new class of materials that cross the biomedical, textiles and electronics industries.
Future applications could see new nerve cells grown on nanotube sheets for spinal injury patients. Meanwhile, yarns made from nanotube fibres could be incorporated into clothing, or even artificial muscles, to make them smarter, stronger and more powerful. Professor Ray Baughman explains some emerging technologies that are leading to a new generation of smart materials.
Textiles are changing thanks to nanotechnology. Better healthcare systems, protective clothing and integrated electronics are just some of the applications. But could such technologies be exploited to steal information or cheat in sporting events?
American swimmer Michael Phelps stunned the world as he racked up eight gold medals and broke seven world records in just eight days at the Beijing Olympics. And he wasn’t the only one breaking records. Almost all of the 25 swimming record breakers had one thing in common – skin-tight swimwear that helped them glide through the water. Elaine Mulcahy explores nanotech advances that are helping athletes win gold.
Increased textile performance is desirable in many modern applications ranging from personal protection from hazards and severe environments to extreme sports. But nowhere are textiles subjected to more severe testing than in the healthcare sector where they may be required to survive within the human body or provide barriers to highly infectious and pathogenic agents.
Imagine a gift wrapped in paper you really do treasure and want to carefully fold and save. That's because the wrapping paper lights up with words like "Happy Birthday" or "Happy Holidays," thanks to a built in battery — an amazing battery made out of paper. That's one potential application of a new battery made of cellulose, the stuff of paper, being described in the October 14 issue of ACS' Nano Letters, a monthly journal.