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Nano or not?


Hohenstein quality label provides guidance

Probably no other catchword has had such an impact on professional textile circles or been included in the advertising messages of manufacturers as frequently over recent months as the term nanotechnology. As there is no uniform definition of the term as yet and there is no distinction between this and conventional textile finishing, insecurity amongst retailers and consumers has increased as the number of advertised active principles and products of this type has risen.

The Hohenstein Institutes, in conjunction with NanoMat, a network of various research institutes and leading suppliers of nanomaterials, have now found a definition which can be applied to the textile sector. The Hohenstein quality label, which is already established in the area of wear comfort, will also soon provide security for retailers and consumers relating to the question "Nano or not?"

Under the definition of the term nanotechnology according to NanoMat the fact that the majority of applications to date simply exist in theoretical form or at best as prototypes is taken into account. Nanotechnology is therefore related back to the area of nanoscience:

Nanotechnology comprises the emerging applications of Nanoscience. Nanosience is dealing with functional systems based on the use of sub-units with specific size-dependent properties of the individual sub-units or of a system of those.

In order for a textile product to be able to use the Hohenstein quality label in the future, it is therefore not sufficient for nanoparticles (1 nanometer = 10-9 m = 0.000001 mm) to be incorporated within the fibre or for the fibres to be enclosed in a nanoscale coating (nanofilm). Rather, the nanoparticles or nanolayers in or on the textile must be systematically arranged and thus demonstrably result in a new function.

Moreover, the nanotechnology should only be perceptible to the wearer by means of a demonstrably improved function, and should only have a negligible effect on the textile properties.

Textile technological parameters which need to be tested in addition to the nanofinish are resistance to care treatments, any effect on health and wear comfort. These parameters can also be neutrally tested by the Hohenstein specialists on request. They are then included separately on the quality label.

What is nano?

The term nano comes from the Greek (=dwarf) and is used in our measuring system as a prefix to denote one billionth. A particle with a diameter of one nanometer is therefore 1 billionth of a meter in size (10-9 m = 0.000001 mm). To give a better illustration: one meter is to one nanometer the equivalent of the diameter of the earth to a hazelnut. Discussions on nanotechnology therefore take us into the realm of molecules which can be made visible nowadays using the latest atomic force microscopy (AFM) or high-resolution scanning electron microscopy (SEM), for example. There is a very wide variety of nanoparticles and they can comprise of different elements and compounds. It is only their particle size which defines them as nanoparticles. Today, available metallic materials (silver, iron, palladium, platinum), organic compounds (vitamins, DNA, coloured pigments) and inorganic compounds (titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, iron oxide) and organic polymers (block copolymers, dispersions) are used.

What is nanotechnology?

Nanotechnology comprises the emerging applications of Nanoscience. Nanosience is dealing with functional systems based on the use of sub-units with specific size-dependent properties of the individual sub-units or of a system of those.

Hohenstein Institutes
Competence Centre for Intelligent Textiles
Dr. Jan Beringer
Schloss Hohenstein
D-74357 Bönnigheim
Tel.: 07143 / 271 641

Rose-Marie Riedl | idw
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