Nanotechnologies in textiles

© Inga Bresser -
© Inga Bresser -

Nanotechnologies can improve the functionality of textiles or provide the respective textile material with completely new properties. Products with dirt or water-repellent or antibacterial properties and improved UV protection are currently available on the market. (Greßler et al., 2010a).

Textile research laboratories are developing so-called "intelligent textiles", which perform electrical or electronic functions, such as the monitoring of body functions or the charging of mobile telephones. Research is also being carried out on nanofibers, which filter out airborne pathogens (Greßler et al., 2010a).

Manufacturing and used materials

The manufacturing processes can be differentiated into coating and integration processes. Coating processes such as sol-gel coating, dip coating, spray coating and the foulard process are implemented industrially. Many integration processes such as compounding, solution spinning or the so-called vapor / solution polymerization are in the development phase.

Different nanomaterials are used depending on the desired properties. For example, water- and dirt-repellent textiles imitate the lotus leaf. They have a rough hydrophobic surface in the micro- and nanometer range (called superhydrophobia) and contain nanometer-thin coatings from silanes or siloxanes. (Greßler et al., 2010a & b).

Antimicrobial fibers typically contain silver nanoparticles. The above-mentioned processing processes are used in the production of textiles with nano silver. Titanium dioxide (TiO2) or zinc oxide (ZnO) nanoparticles are used to increase UV protection. Carbon nanotube (CNT) reinforced protective vests as well as textiles that deliver active ingredients to the skin are also available on the market (Greßler et al 2010a).