Chemistry makes the natural 'wonder fabric' -- wool -- more wonderful

Dec 22, 2009
These images from an electron microscope show wool fibers coated with the silica nanoparticles that may improve wool’s qualities. Credit: American Chemical Society

Scientists in China are reporting an advance that may improve the natural wonders of wool — already regarded as the "wonder fabric" for its lightness, softness, warmth even when wet, and other qualities. They say the discovery could give wool a "brain," placing it among other "smart" fabrics that shake off wrinkles, shrinkage and "breathe" to release perspiration. The study is in ACS' Langmuir.

Fangqiong Tang, Yi Li and colleagues note that wool is naturally water-repellant, or hydrophobic, a feature that acts as a barrier to enhanced features such as anti-wrinkle, anti-shrinkage finishing and dyeing.

Wool's water-repellency also hinders its ability to absorb moisture and makes wool garments feel sweaty. Although scientists have developed treatments that make wool more hydrophilic, or water-absorbing, they may not last long, may damage the fabric, and are not environmentally-friendly.

The scientists describe development of new coating that appears to ease these problems. It is made from of 1/50,000th the width of a human hair. The absorb excess moisture, and make wool superhydrophilic. The new layer does not affect wool's color or texture and can withstand dry cleaning, the scientists note.

Explore further: How we can substitute critical raw materials in catalysis, electronics and photonics

More information: "Fabricating Superhydrophilic Wool Fabrics", pubs.acs.org/doi/full/10.1021/la903562h

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Wanted: A sheep in sheep's clothing

Jun 06, 2006

Australian scientists say they are looking for the ugliest merino lambs they can find in a study that may challenge the dominance of synthetic fibers.

Award for turning wool into gold

Aug 31, 2009

A Victoria University (New Zealand) scientist has won a prestigious innovation award for turning pure New Zealand Merino wool into gold.

'Second skin' helps care for all

May 10, 2006

CSIRO scientists are creating a ‘second skin’ made from wool and Lycra to help protect the body against wounds and major traumas.

Recommended for you

Glass coating improves battery performance

4 hours ago

Lithium-sulfur batteries have been a hot topic in battery research because of their ability to produce up to 10 times more energy than conventional batteries, which means they hold great promise for applications ...

Semiconductor miniaturisation with 2D nanolattices

Feb 26, 2015

A European research project has made an important step towards the further miniaturisation of nanoelectronics, using a highly-promising new material called silicene. Its goal: to make devices of the future ...

Magnetic nanoparticles enhance performance of solar cells

Feb 25, 2015

Magnetic nanoparticles can increase the performance of solar cells made from polymers - provided the mix is right. This is the result of an X-ray study at DESY's synchrotron radiation source PETRA III. Adding ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

ridelo
not rated yet Jan 02, 2010
Is this wool also antiallergic?

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.