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Scientists get fashionable

Page history last edited by frogheart@... 14 years, 2 months ago

Nanotechnology is being woven into the fabric of everyday life, literally. Scientists haven't found a way to make it affordable yet but our clothing is going to change hugely if they have anything to do with it.


Fashion protects you from colds


(copyright 2007 Cornell University) Design student Olivia Ong '07 with

garments, treated with metallic nanoparticles through a collaboration with

fiber scientists, Juan Hinestroza and Hong Dong, that she designed for 

'Gliteratti' collection. For permission and licensing info. see Copyright and permissions.


Fiber scientists at Cornell University worked with student fashion designers to create wearable, fashionable clothing that could protect you against the common cold, the flu, and, if pollution gets bad, harmful gases too. It's not affordable at $10,000 US per square metre but the price is understandable if you have the opportunity to look at the fibres beneath a microscope.


(copyright 2007 Cornell University) Image

from scanning electron microscope

showing a cotton fiber with palladium

nanoparticle coating provided by Hong Dong.

For :permission and licensing info. see Copyright and permissions.


The fibres are coated in nanoparticles that were electrostatically charged. Both silver (at 10 - 20 nanometres [10 - 20 billionths of a metre]) across and palladium (at 5  - 10 nanometres in length) were used as different coating agents. The colours present in the fabric resulted not from dye but from the nanoparticles' distinct optical properties.[1]


Dress yourself in gold and silver, literally

Researchers in New Zealand wove fine merino wool fibres together with gold, silver, and a combination of gold and silver nanoparticles together in a single fabric to create unexpected colours. The colours depend on the type of precious metal, their size, and, sometimes, their shape. A spherical gold nanoparticle about 10 nanometres (10 billionths of a metre) in diametre gives a wine red colour and as the size increases up to 100 nanometres the colours change from red to purple to blue to various shades of grey, but no gold. Silver nanoparticles can be shaped like spheres, triangles, round plates, or prisms, and they produce shades of green, yellow or orange. Scarves woven with precious metal nanoparticles are expected to cost between $200US and $300US.[2]


(Gold and silver nanoparticle have been and are used in other applications. Gold nanoparticles were used unknowingly in stained glass windows [for more about stained glass, under Jump joints, click on Middle Ages] and scientists are now experimenting with them for medical applications. Silver nanoparticles have been used extensively in the last decade or so in products ranging from socks to bandages to teddy bears because they have antibacterial properties. Recent findings suggest the silver nanoparticles have been leaking into the water supply.[3]  [For more about nanotechnology risks, under Jump joints, click on Risks.])


The power of your shirt

Soldiers, hikers, runners and other people who exert strenuous effort generate sufficient low frequency mechanical energy for researchers to begin considering ways and means of harvesting and converting it to electrical energy via clothing. Researchers have shown that pairs of textile fibres coated with zinc oxide particles can generate an electrical current that could be used to power portable electronic devices. In the future,


The fiber-based nanogenerator [the coated textile fibers] would be a simple and economical way to harvest energy from physical movement, says Zhong Lin Wang, a Regents professor in the School of Materials Science and Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. If we can combine many of these fibers in double or triple layers in clothing, we could provide a flexible, foldable, and wearable power source that, for example, would allow people to generate their own electrical power while walking.


The scientists do have one problem with the zinc oxide particles; they wash off in water. Researchers will have to find some way to protect the particles when washing the clothing.[4]


Jump back

Scientists play too


Jump joints

Middle Ages



Jump points

Scientists eat junk food

Scientists get literary

Scientists get musical

Scientists get virtual

Scientists get whimsical

Scientists read comics, watch tv, and more


  1. Ju, A. (2007) Student designer and fiber scientists create a dress that prevents colds and a jacket that destroys noxious gases. Cornell University Chronicle Online, May 1, 2007. (Accessed July 9, 2008 from http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/May07/nanofibers.fashion.aj.html)
  2. Nanowerk News (June 13, 2008) Nanotechnology goes haute couture. [Online news posting] (Accessed June 16, 2008 from http://www.nanowerk.com/news/newsid=6057.php)
  3. Nanowerk News (June 13, 2008) Nanotechnology goes haute couture. [Online news posting] (Accessed June 16, 2008 from http://www.nanowerk.com/news/newsid=6057.php)
  4. California Science and Technology News (February 14, 2008) Nanotechnology in Clothing to Harvest Energy in Body Movement. [Online article] (Accessed February 15, 2008 from http://www.ccnmag.com/article/nanotechnology_in_clothing_to_harvest_energy_from_body_movement)

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