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Nanotechnology and Textiles

Nanotech textiles
Textiles with integrated electronics, special self-cleaning abilities, resistance to fire, protection from ultraviolet light, and a range of other features are nanotechnology applications. There is currently a huge amount of research and development being conducted across the globe from universities to global corporations to design and create the next generation textiles. Novel nanotech textiles are already being integrated into leading-edge applications for a range of industries including aerospace, automotives, construction and sportswear. They also hold significant promise for the healthcare industry in self-cleaning surfaces, smart surgical gloves, implants and prosthetics and round-the-clock patient monitors. UV-blocking textiles enhanced with zinc oxide nanoparticles and extremely strong, wear-resistant surface coatings are two approaches likely to have application in the military, aerospace and other civilian products. Examples of industries where nanotech-enhanced textiles are already seeing some application include the sporting industry, skincare, space technology and clothing and material technologies for better protection in extreme environments. Treating textiles with nanotechnology materials is a method to improve the properties of the textile, making it longer durable, have nicer colours etc. Nanotechnology can also be used to add new functionalities like energy storage and communications. Some interesting examples of nano improved textiles currently on the market are:
• Stain repellent and wrinkle-resistant threads woven in textiles
• Body warmers use Phase Change Materials (PCMs) responding to changing body temperatures
• Nanosocks treated with silver nanoparticles. The silver acts against infection and odour.
Swimming suit
The most widely recognized application t is in the shark-skin suit worn during world-record breaking Olympic swimming championship. The suit, which includes a plasma layer enhanced by nanotechnology to repel water molecules, is designed to help the swimmer glide through the water and has become a common feature of major swimming events as all competitors attempt to enhance their chances of winning.
Sporting goods
Running shoes, tennis racquets, golf balls, skin creams, and a range other sporting goods have also been enhanced by nanotechnology. As well as developing textiles to withstand extreme environments, scientists have looked to naturally existing viral nanoparticles that live in some of the harshest environments on earth, for new building blocks for nanotechnology. A garment that senses their surroundings and interacts with the wearer is an area of considerable interest. Such textile-based nanosensors could provide a personalized healthcare system, monitoring your vital signs as you run up a hill or responding to changes in the weather.
Flexible electronic circuits
Nanoribbons form the basis for the chips which are so flexible they can wrap around the edge of a microscope cover slip and so stretchable they can be twisted into a corkscrew. The researchers are focusing applications development in the healthcare industry and believe these tiny, flexible electronic sheets could one day be used to line the brain to monitor activity in patients at risk of epilepsy or be integrated into surgical gloves to monitor a patient’s vital signs during surgery.
Lifestyle applications
Perhaps surprisingly the earliest commercialized applications of nanotechnology are seen in lifestyle applications. Textile and cosmetics are among the first products to use nanomaterials. The examples of nanotechnology materials and technologies in lifestyle application is bullet proof vests. Nanotube fibers are used to make a material seventeen times tougher than the Kevlar. Future developments are to use nanotechnology to create Smart and Interactive Textiles (SMIT) that can sense electrical, thermal, chemical, magnetic, or other stimuli.
Currently however, the major part of advanced textiles is relative low tech products like photo chromic t-shirts. Nanotechnology can be used to give fabrics a wide range of properties such as being:
• Resistant to spills and stains
• Create superior temperature moderation when the wearer moves between hot and cold external temperatures
• Really permanent press and wrinkle resistance
• Able to oxide smog
• Antibacterial and antifungal
• Color fast without dyes because the color is a function of the nanoparticle.

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