The Gift of Nanotechnology - Water Proof Fabrics

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In today's world, consumers havemore choices in the type of fabrics they wear. Fabrics of the present times gofar beyond the natural fibres in their performance. Innovations in the field ofnanotechnology present new ways of processing fabrics that will create a newera in the textile industry. Waterproof fabrics are the latest innovation inthis field. No matter the time this fabric is soaked in water, it comes out dryas ever. These fabrics are made to ensure protection from environmentalfracases like rain, wind and decrease of body heat. They prevent thepenetration of liquid water, snow and at the same time allow body sweat toevaporate easily.


Moisture handling ability oftextiles during rain, snow, and while involved in hard; physical activities areregarded as the major factor for performance and comfort. A clothing that isworn next to the skin should have good moisture absorption, and fast dryingabilities. Contradictory opinions exist regarding the type of material to beused. Some manufacturers feel that moisture absorbing is necessary for these kindsof fabrics, and hence cotton or viscose material should be used. A few othersargue that the fibres used in these garments should not absorb moisture, sothat sweat is removed away from the skin onto the outer layers of the garment,and will get evaporated into the atmosphere. Blends in the fabric layers arecapable of giving the best properties of both the fabrics. Biocomponent knitslike polyester and woolen fibres provide the positives of both fabrics;insulation as well as wicking in a single layer.



Scientists from the University of Zurich have come up with a fabric, which is considered as the latestinvention in this field. Water stays on the top of this fabric as balls, andcan be removed with just a tilt of the cloth. These fabrics are made frompolyester fibres, and are coated with millions of 40 nanometer wide siliconenanofilaments. In this process, silicone is condensed into the fibres in theform of gas to form nanofilaments. A permanent layer of air, trapped insilicone nanofilaments, that is present in the fabric, prevents the water frompenetrating into the cloth. The water that stays on the top of the fabric needsto be tilted only a little and all the water will roll off the fabric likemarbles without leaving a trace. Researchers also believe that this process canbe successfully applied to other materials like viscose, cotton, and woolthough polyester gives the best results currently.


Manufacturing fabrics with nano-sizedparticles improves the performance of the fabric. Simultaneously, it does notadd weight or thickness to the cloth. Nanotechnology is now coming up with newways of processing fabrics which will create a revolution in the fabricindustry. It is a vast field offering a wide range of benefits to the society.The benefits reaped out of it, depends on the researches carried out, and theamount of money invested.