Md Golam Robbani
An increasingly interdisciplinary technology that is often seen as a new industrial revolution is nanotechnology. Nanotechnology is gradually attracting worldwide attention because of its huge potential in a wide range of end uses. Due to their huge economical potential, nano-materials have attracted businesses. For the textile industry nanotechnology also has real commercial potential. Nano-particles have a large surface area-to-volume ratio and high surface energy, thus presenting better affinity for fabrics and leading to an increase in durability of the function. Also, a coating of nano-particles on fabrics will not affect their breathability or hand feel. Increasing customer demand for durable and functional apparel manufactured in a sustainable manner has created an opportunity for nano-materials to be integrated into textile substrates. This technology can induce stain repellence, wrinkle-freeness, static elimination and electrical conductivity to fibers without compromising their comfort and flexibility.
Nanotechnology is a new section of manipulating, understanding, controlling, and determining the biophysical or chemical aspects and factors of material conducted at the nanoscale having at least one dimension less than 100 nm. The ideas and concepts behind this amazing technology started with a talk entitled “There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom” by physicist Richard Feynman at an American Physical Society meeting at the California Institute of Technology (CalTech) on December 29, 1959, long before the term nanotechnology was used. In his speech, Feynman described a process in which scientists would be able to manipulate and control individual atoms and molecules. More than a decade later, Professor Norio Taniguchi specified the term nanotechnology in his explorations of ultraprecision machining. It has actually started at 1981, with the development of the scanning tunneling microscope that could “see” individual atoms where modern nanotechnology began.
It’s truly hard to imagine just how small nanotechnology can be. One nanometer is a billionth of a meter. There can be 25,400,000 nanometers in an inch. The thickness of a newspaper sheet is about 100,000 nanometers. On a comparative scale, if a marble were a nanometer, then one meter would be the size of the Earth. Everything in this world that exist physically is made up of atoms—the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the buildings and houses we live in, and our own bodies even the air we inhale. Atoms can’t be seen through naked eyes. Two basic processes are used in the production of nanoparticles: Top-down and Bottom-up/Chemo-physical production processes. ‘Top-down’ refers to the mechanical crushing of source material using a milling process.
It is a mechanical-physical particle production process based on the principles of microsystem technology. Purely mechanical milling can be accompanied by reactive milling: here, a chemical or chemo-physical reaction accompanies the milling process. In the ‘bottom-up’ strategy, structures are built up by chemical processes.
The selection of the respective process depends on the chemical composition and the desired features specified for the nanoparticles. Also, there are Sol-gel syntheses (the production of a gel from powder-shaped materials) which are wet-chemical processes for producing porous nanomaterials). Nano Textiles can be produced by a variety of methods. The key difference among them is whether synthetic nanoparticles are integrated into the fibres or the textile, or are applied as a coating on the surface whether nanoparticles are added to the nanoscale fibres or coating.
Nanotechnology in Textile and Apparel
Nanotechnology is a new doorway into the textile and apparel industry. Its application has been offering a wide range of opportunities and attracting groups of businessmen, investors, and others because of the potential and growth it offers economically. It has brought a technological revolution in the textile industry. Our world is in a constant state of revolution or change. The consumers of the textile industry demand new technology and innovations for a better experience. Nanotech combined with fibers has made nanofibers. These smart fabrics are advanced and multi-functional in fashion, sports, protection, transportation, etc. They are durable, comfortable and cost-effective and have multiple uses.
Various kind of nano textiles is present in the market. Some of these are,
- Nano-finished textiles: Coats, gloves, blouse-on, and bedding covers are made from such textile materials
- Nanocomposite textiles: Nanofibers and carbon nanotubes.
- Nanofibrous textiles: Nanofibrous textiles may have great potential in the medical field because of their unique characteristics that meet the criteria for medical applications.
- Nano-enabled or, nonwovens: Used covering medicine.
- Clay nanoparticles: Used in electronics, food, clothing, tire, medicine, sunscreen, cosmetics, sports etc.
- Carbon nanotubes: These tubes have electrical conductivity, strength, elasticity, thermal conductivity also expansion.
Some popular nano-textiles are,
- Swimsuits designed with nanotechnology: These new advanced swimsuits have a layer of plasma, directed and enhanced by nanotechnology. This plasma layer helps in repelling the water molecules, resulting in better diving and swimming.
- Self-cleaning bed sheets: These bed sheets do not let dirt or water stay on their surface for a longer time. Such fabrics are also referred to as nano-care fabrics. These fabrics work by dismissing all contact points of external elements, such as dust, dirt, etc.
- Ultraviolet ray-protective jackets: Nanotechnology enhances the ability of fabrics to protect the person by adding delustrant, ultraviolet ray absorber, and dye pigmentation. These technologies deflect the sun’s harmful rays and make the fabric comparatively better than others since it provides better protection.
Also there are stain-repellent and wrinkle-resistant threads, body warmers that use Phase Change Materials (PCMs) responding to changing body temperatures, nano socks treated with silver nanoparticles etc available in the current market. Nanopatterned surfaces can exploit the Lotus effect, causing them to be hydrophobic enough for water droplets to ball up and roll off the fabric surface, removing dirt particles in their path.
There are some useful properties of Nanofibers:
- Water-repellent properties
- Antibacterial properties
- Wrinkle-Resistant properties
- Ultraviolet Ray-protective properties
- Fireproof properties
- Anti-pollen properties
The Global Nano-textiles Market
The global market for nanotextiles should grow from $5.1 billion in 2019 to $14.8 billion by 2024 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 23.6% for the period of 2019-2024. The global market for technical textiles is estimated to increase from $197.8 billion in 2022 to $255.4 billion by 2027, at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.2% from 2022 through 2027. The global market for nonwoven filter media should grow from $5.7 billion in 2021 to $7.2 billion by 2026 with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.9% for the period of 2021-2026. The global market for nanofiber should grow from $2.2 billion in 2021 to $6.7 billion by 2026 with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 25.1% for the period of 2021-2026(bccresearch). To continue this favourable trend of emerging nano textiles, the textile industry should contribute more to research in nanotechnology and intensify its collaboration with other disciplines. There are countless nano-based textiles and fabrics applications, such as medicine, military, fashion/entertainment, sportswear, and many more. These applications and developments show that nanotechnology will emerge to dominate the textile field in future.