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Home > News > Are nanotextiles making fabric laws wear thin? Over the past two decades, scientists have been working to create some remarkable new nanotextiles – but the laws which regulate fabrics have stayed the same. Is it time for them to be updated?
October 4th, 2011
Are nanotextiles making fabric laws wear thin? Over the past two decades, scientists have been working to create some remarkable new nanotextiles – but the laws which regulate fabrics have stayed the same. Is it time for them to be updated?
The manipulation of textiles is an age-old practice, starting with the furs of the animals we hunted. As agriculture and farming grew, we began to weave natural fibres, providing us with fabrics such as cotton and wool - sartorial staples we've relied on for centuries.
However, during the past two decades a new generation of textiles has emerged: nanotextiles. This integration of nanotechnology and conventional fabrics is on the increase, and its products can be found in many areas of modern life including fashion, sport and medicine.
"Our knowledge has advanced so much that we now exercise a lot more control over our textiles," explains Juan Hinestroza, from Cornell University's Fiber Science and Apparel Design department in the US. "Our imagination is the limit."
Unsurprisingly, the most mainstream use of nanotextiles is in clothing. The chances are you have some nanotextiles hanging in your wardrobe; wrinkle-free or non-iron garments have been engineered against creasing by coating the fibres with nanoparticles. Nanotechnology is also responsible for the stain-resistant fabrics found in both clothing and carpets. Tiny, nano-sized hairs are added to the surface of the material which stop liquids from being absorbed. The spill can then be wiped off without it causing a stain. Smelly feet haven't escaped the nanotextile treatment either: socks can be turned antibacterial with the addition of silver nanoparticles, which bind tightly to the cotton, eliminating bacteria before they create an odour.
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