The future is now. At least when it comes to textiles that incorporate nanotechnology. Researchers at the Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering, at the University of North Carolina Greensboro, are exploring ways to marry nanomaterials to textiles. ”We are very excited, because it is our societal responsibility, as scientists, to utilize our knowledge, expertise and technical skills for the sake of satisfying the needs of society,” says Dr. Tetyana Ignatova.
Ignatova’s lab group concentrates on experimental nanoscience of low-dimensional materials, focusing on the physics of biosensing, spectroscopic intra-cellular imaging, and nanofabrication for energy storage.
“We can incorporate nanotubes into fibers and make antimicrobial or antiviral fabrics, and also functionalize carbon nanotubes to become biosensors,” says Ignatova. “That is what we will accomplish. We plan to make it and test it, and we know how to test it. If we can create clothes that help serve medicine and health, it will be a new era of fashion.”
The virus and bacteria-resistant textiles idea isn’t just for human benefit. The chemicals that most people currently use to discourage bacteria have harmful effects on the health of the environment, so using nanotechnology to create self-cleaning surfaces would be of great environmental value.
Ignatova sees a potential future for the Greensboro region in both textile technologies and functionalities, especially with the recent donations of equipment from lifestyle apparel company Kontoor Brands to help their research. The equipment includes a state-of-the-art yarn dyeing machine with the ability to control sample temperature and amount, in addition to an automated sampling loom that allows the ability to boost material performance.