Nanofibres make clothes that cannot get wet

December 22nd, 2008 - 3:14 pm ICT by IANS  

Geneva, Dec 22 (DPA) Polyester fibres covered by tiny silicone filaments can create clothing that when dunked in water will still remain completely dry, a Swiss scientist discovered.The nanotechnology structure allows the surface to be covered in chemicals which make the clothing hydrophobic to the point that water simply bounces or slides off.

Stefan Seeger, a lead researcher on the project at the University of Zurich, said the technology could have many purposes, including producing improved swimsuits, making industrial clothing and even for protecting outdoor furniture.

“The same process can be used to protect wood, for example,” Seeger told DPA.

The nano-structure, when covered with the chemicals, traps a thin layer of air between the water and the actual textile, which means the item of clothing can be soaked in water and still remain dry.

The technology can also repel dirt and sweat, bringing possibly closer the day when clothes no longer need washing. For now, the structure would best be employed by makers of rugged outdoor wear.

For swimmers, the nanofibres can be applied to their costumes and let them go faster, with less drag.

“We have already conducted some tests and the friction in water is reduced,” Seeger explained, adding, “So you can improve speed”.

Increasing the durability of the textile, though, would remain a challenge.

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