Submitted to: National Cotton Council Beltwide Cotton Conference
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: April 15, 2009
Publication Date: June 15, 2009
Citation: Sawhney, A.P., Condon, B.D., Singh, K., Reynolds, M.L., Riddle, J.B. 2009. Applications of Nanotechnology in Textiles and Cotton Nonwovens: A Review. National Cotton Council Beltwide Cotton Conference. CDROM. p. 1410-1413. Interpretive Summary: Nanotechnology is a relatively new science that enables us to efficiently achieve certain desirable, performance-specific attributes of cotton products, namely cotton fiber or cotton fiber blends and their substrates, yarns, fabrics (whether woven, knitted or nonwoven) and composites. For example, treating a cotton or a cotton-blend substrate with a certain chemical by using an appropriate technique of nanotechnology application, we can expect considerable improvements in the fire retardancy, breathability, abrasion resistance, wrinkle recovery, dimensional stability, softness, antimicrobial characteristic, odor-less wear, or any other possible/desirable attribute of cotton products. Furthermore, the main difference between the traditional bulk (chemical) treatments and the nano applications is that the former generally require a substantial quantity of “add-on” of the specific chemical(s), whereas the latter require only a fraction of the quantity of what the former methodology requires. For example, treating a cotton, or a cotton-blend substrate with nano particles of a ceramic material can produce an efficient and durable gaseous (and perhaps even fluid) filtration medium. Nanotechnology certainly has a wide scope of applications for a variety of textile end-use products. However, although nanotechnology is rapidly growing in many industrial and manufacturing segments, including the textile sectors, its full potential of applications is not yet explored. And one of the reasons for that may be the lack of complete knowledge of the potential, long-term risks that the nano particles of certain chemicals may be associated with. Incidentally, a nano meter is a billionth part of a meter).
Technical Abstract: Nanotechnology is an advanced science that deals with the understanding, manipulation, transformation, control, and efficient utilization of matter at nanometer dimensions or, say, near its molecular levels. The term nanometer refers to a linear dimension that is a billionth of a meter or, say, one thousandth of a micron, which is a millionth part of a meter. Although the underlying concept of nanotechnology or sub-micro essentially was in existence several decades ago, the last couple of decades indeed have seen significant spurs in the developments and innovations of the technology in many industries and manufacturing sectors, including fibers and textiles (woven, knitted and nonwoven fabrics). The reason for the recent spurs and rapid growths in applications of the technology is the successful commercial demonstration of the underlying fact that a matter at or near its molecular level or dimension exhibits considerable improvements in some of its classical, physical, mechanical, chemical, biological, and electronic properties. Certain matters at their nano dimensions and even in small application-quantity, say 2 to 5% by weight of the bulk material, efficiently enhance certain desirable attributes of the bulk material and, hence, of its ultimate end-use product. For example, nano particles of certain materials, when impregnated with or embedded in cotton fiber, yarn or fabric, can significantly improve the latter’s durability, softness, stain resistance, dye-ability, thermal resistance/stability, wrinkle resistance, dimensional stability, abrasion resistance, fluid absorbency or repulsion, antimicrobial/biocide effects, or the like. Textiles in general and cotton textiles and nonwovens in particular are expected to be major beneficiaries of the rapidly growing nanotechnology.