It seems there’s another entry into the textile business, a women’s dress shirt made of a technical textile. A Sept. 13, 2016 article by Elizabeth Segran for Fast Company describes this ‘miracle’ piece of apparel,
There are few items of clothing professional women love more than a well-draped silk shirt. They’re the equivalent of men’s well-tailored Oxford shirts: classic, elegant, and versatile enough to look appropriate in almost any business context. But they’re also difficult to maintain: Silk wrinkles easily, doesn’t absorb perspiration, and needs to be dry cleaned.
Boston-based fashion brand Ministry (formerly Ministry of Supply) has heard our lament. …
Ministry gathered … feedback and spent two years creating a high-performance women’s work shirt as part of its debut womenswear collection, launching today [Sept. 13, 2016]. Until now, the five-year-old company has been focused on creating menswear made with cutting-edge new textiles, but cofounder Gihan Amarasiriwardena explains that when they were developing the womenswear collection, they didn’t just remake their men’s garments in women’s sizes.
Here’s an image of the shirt in black,
[downloaded from http://ministry.co/collections/womens]
Segran’s article mostly extolls its benefits but there is a little technical information,
Their brand-new, aptly named Easier Than Silk Shirt looks and feels like silk, but is actually made from a Japanese technical fabric (i.e., a textile engineered to perform functions, like protecting the wearer from extremely high temperatures). It drapes nicely, wicks moisture, is wrinkle-resistant, and can be thrown in a regular washer and dryer. I tested the shirt on a typical Monday. This meant getting dressed at 7 a.m., taking my baby to a health checkup—where she proceeded to drool on me—wiping myself off for a lunch interview, then heading to a coffee shop to write for several hours before going to a book launch party. By the time I got home that evening and looked in the mirror, the shirt was somehow crease-free and there were no moisture blotches in sight.
When Ministry claims to “engineer a shirt,” it does not mean this in a metaphorical sense. The by [sic] three MIT students, Amarasiriwardena, Aman Advani, and Kit Hickey; the former two were trained as engineers. Every aspect of Ministry’s design process incorporates scientific thinking, from introducing NASA temperature-regulating textile technology into dress shirts to using equipment to test each garment before it hits the market. The Ministry headquarters in Boston is full of machines, including one that pulls at fabric to see how well it is able to recover from being stretched, and computer systems that offer 3D modeling of the human form.
I wonder if Teijin (first mentioned here in a July 19, 2010 posting about their now defunct ‘morphotex’ [based on the nanostructures on a Morpho butterfly’s wing] fabric) is the Japanese company producing Ministry’s technical textile. Ministry’s company website is less focused on the technology than on the retail aspect of their business so if the technical information is there, it’s not immediately obvious.
Teijin is a Japanese chemical and pharmaceutical company known to me due to its production of nanotechnology-enabled fibres. As a consequence, a Jan. 21, 2016 news item on Nanotechnology Now piqued by interest,
Teijin Limited announced today that it will exhibit a wide range of nanotech materials and products incorporating advanced Teijin technologies during the International Nanotechnology Exhibition and Conference (nano tech 2016), the world’s largest nanotechnology show, at Tokyo Big Sight in Tokyo, Japan from January 27 to 29 .
Teijin’s booth (Stand 4E-09) will present nanotech materials and products for sustainable transportation, information and electronics, safety and protection, environment and energy, and healthcare, including the following:
– Nanofront, an ultra-fine polyester fiber with an unprecedented diameter of just 700 nanometers, features slip-resistance, heat shielding, wiping and filtering properties. It is used for diverse applications, including sportswear, cosmetics and industrial applications such as filters and heat-shielding sheets.
– Carbon nanotube yarn (CNTy) is 100%-CNT continuous yarn offering high electrical and thermal conductivity, easy handling and flexibility. Uses including space, aerospace, medical and wearable devices are envisioned. A motor using CNTy as its coil, developed by Finnish Lappeenranta University of Technology Opening a new window, will be exhibited first time in Japan.
– NanoGram Si paste is a printed electronics material containing 20nm-diameter silicon nanoparticles for photovoltaic cells capable of high conversion efficiency.
– Teijin Tetoron multilayer film is a structurally colored multilayer polyester film that utilizes the interference of each multilayer’s optical path difference rather than dyes or pigments. Decorative films for automotive and other applications will be exhibited.
– High-performance membranes, including a high-precision porous thin polyethylene membrane and multilayer membrane composites for micro filters, are moisture-permeable waterproof sheets.
– Carbon Alloy Catalyst (CAC) (under development) is platinum free catalyst made from polyacrylonitrile (precursor of carbon fiber) in combination with iron species, which is less expensive and more readily available than platinum, enabling production for reduced cost and in higher volumes. Fuel cells in which the cathode consists of the CAC without the platinum catalyst can generate exceptionally high electric power.
– Carbon nanofiber (under development) is a highly conductive carbon nanofiber with an elliptical cross section consisting of well-developed graphite layers ordered in a single direction. Envisioned applications include additives for lithiumion secondary batteries (LIBs) , thermal conducting materials and plastic-reinforcing materials, among others.
Teijin first came to my attention in 2010 with their Morphotex product, a fabric based on the nanostructures found on the Blue Morpho butterfly’s wing. I updated the story in an April 12, 2012 posting sadly noting that Morphotex was no longer available.
It’s not always easy to get perspective about nanotechnology research and commercialization efforts in Japan and South Korea. So, it was good to see Marjo Johne’s Nov. 9, 2015 article for the Globe and Mail,
Nanotechnology, a subfield in advanced manufacturing [?] that produces technologies less than 100 nanometres in size (a human hair is about 800 times wider), is a burgeoning industry that’s projected to grow to about $135-billion in Japan by 2020. South Korea’s government said it is aiming to boost its share of the sector to 20 per cent of the global market in 2020.
“Japan and Korea are active markets for nanotechnology,” says Mark Foley, a consultant with NanoGlobe Pte. Ltd., a Singapore-based firm that helps nanotech companies bring their products to market. “Japan is especially strong on the research side and [South] Korea is very fast in plugging nanotechnology into applications.”
Andrej Zagar, author of a research paper on nanotechnology in Japan, points to maturing areas in Japan’s nanotechnology sector: applications such as nano electronics, coatings, power electronic, and nano-micro electromechanical systems for sensors. “Japan’s IT sector is making the most progress as the implementations here are made most quickly,” says Mr. Zagar, who works as business development manager at LECIP Holdings Corp., a Tokyo-based company that manufactures intelligent transport systems for global markets. “As Japan is very environmentally focused, the environment sector in nanotech – fuel-cell materials, lithium-ion nanomaterials – is worth focusing on.”
A very interesting article, although don’t take everything as gospel. The definition of nanotechnology as a subfield in advanced manufacturing is problematic to me since nanotechnology has medical and agricultural applications, which wouldn’t typically be described as part of an advanced manufacturing subfield. As well, I’m not sure where biomimicry would fit into this advanced manufacturing scheme. In any event, the applications mentioned in the article do fit that definition; its just not a comprehensive one.
Anyone who’s read this blog for a while knows I’m not a big fan of patents or the practice of using filed patents as a measure of scientific progress but in the absence of of a viable alternative, there’s this from Johne’s article,
Patent statistics suggest accelerated rates of nanotech-related innovations in these countries. According to StatNano, a website that monitors nanotechnology developments in the world, Japan and South Korea have the second and third highest number of nanotechnology patents filed this year with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
As of September, Japan had filed close to 3,283 patents while South Korea’s total was 1,845. While these numbers are but a fraction of the United States’ 13,759 nanotech patents filed so far this year, they top Germany, which has only 1,100 USPTO nanotech patent filings this year, and Canada, which ranks 10th worldwide with 375 filings.
In South Korea, the rise of nanotechnology can be traced back to 2001, when the South Korean government launched its nanotechnology development plan, along with $94-million in funding. Since then, South Korea has poured more money into nanotechnology. As of 2012, it had invested close to $2-billion in nanotech research and development.
The applications mentioned in the article are the focus of competition not only in Japan and South Korea but internationally,
Mr. Foley says nanofibres and smart clothing are particularly hot areas in Japan these days. Nanofibers have broad applications and can be used in water and air filtration systems. He points to Toray Industries Inc. and Teijin Ltd. as leaders in advanced fibre technology.
“We’ve also seen advances in smart clothing in the last year or two, with clothing that can conduct electricity and measure things like heart rate, body temperature and sweat,” he says. “Last year, a sporting company in Japan released smart clothing based on Toray technology.”
How did Foley determine that ‘smart clothing’ is a particularly hot area in Japan? Is it the number of patents filed? Is it the amount of product in the marketplace? Is it consumer demand? And, how do those numbers compare with other countries? Also, I would have liked a little more detail as to what Foley meant by ‘nanofibres’.
This is a very Asia-centric story, which is a welcome change from US-centric and European-centric stories on this topic, and inevitably, China is mentioned,
As the nanotechnology industry continues to gain traction on a global scale, Mr. Foley says Japan and South Korea may have a hard time holding on to their top spots in the international market; China is moving up fast from behind.
“Top Chinese researchers from Harvard and Cambridge are returning to China, where in Suzhou City they’ve built a nanocity with over 200 nanotechnology-related companies,” he says …
The ‘nano city’ Foley mentions is called Nanopolis or Nanopolis Suzhou. It’s been mentioned here twice, first in a Jan. 20, 2014 posting and again in a Sept. 26, 2014 posting. It’s a massive project and I gather that while some buildings are occupied there are still a significant percentage under construction.
I’m hoping one day they’ll be able to create textiles that rely on structure rather than pigment or dye for colour so my clothing will no longer fade with repeated washings and exposure to sunlight. There was one such textile, morphotex (named for the Blue Morpho butterfly, no longer produced by Japanese manufacturer Teijin but you can see a photo of the fabric which was fashioned into a dress by Australian designer Donna Sgro in my July 19, 2010 posting.
This particular project at the University of California at San Diego (UCSD), sadly, is not textile-oriented, but has resulted in a film according to a May 13, 2015 news item on ScienceDaily,
Inspired by the way iridescent bird feathers play with light, scientists have created thin films of material in a wide range of pure colors — from red to green — with hues determined by physical structure rather than pigments.
Structural color arises from the interaction of light with materials that have patterns on a minute scale, which bend and reflect light to amplify some wavelengths and dampen others. Melanosomes, tiny packets of melanin found in the feathers, skin and fur of many animals, can produce structural color when packed into solid layers, as they are in the feathers of some birds.
“We synthesized and assembled nanoparticles of a synthetic version of melanin to mimic the natural structures found in bird feathers,” said Nathan Gianneschi, a professor of chemistry and biochemistry at the University of California, San Diego. “We want to understand how nature uses materials like this, then to develop function that goes beyond what is possible in nature.”
Gianneschi’s work focuses on nanoparticles that can sense and respond to the environment. He proposed the project after hearing Matthew Shawkey, a biology professor at the University of Akron, describe his work on the structural color in bird feathers at a conference. Gianneschi, Shawkey and colleagues at both universities report the fruits of the resulting collaboration in the journal ACS Nano, posted online May 12 .
To mimic natural melanosomes, Yiwen Li, a postdoctoral fellow in Gianneschi’s lab, chemically linked a similar molecule, dopamine, into meshes. The linked, or polydopamine, balled up into spherical particles of near uniform size. Ming Xiao, a graduate student who works with Shawkey and polymer science professor Ali Dhinojwala at the University of Akron, dried different concentrations of the particles to form thin films of tightly packed polydopamine particles.
The films reflect pure colors of light; red, orange, yellow and green, with hue determined by the thickness of the polydopamine layer and how tightly the particles packed, which relates to their size, analysis by Shawkey’s group determined.
The colors are exceptionally uniform across the films, according to precise measurements by Dimitri Deheyn, a research scientist at UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography who studies how a wide variety of organisms use light and color to communicate. “This spatial mapping of spectra also tells you about color changes associated with changes in the size or depth of the particles,” Deheyn said.
The qualities of the material contribute to its potential application. Pure hue is a valuable trait in colorimetric sensors. And unlike pigment-based paints or dyes, structural color won’t fade. Polydopamine, like melanin, absorbs UV light, so coatings made from polydopamine could protect materials as well. Dopamine is also a biological molecule used to transmit information in our brains, for example, and therefore biodegradable.
“What has kept me fascinated for 15 years is the idea that one can generate colors across the rainbow through slight (nanometer scale) changes in structure,” said Shawkey whose interests range from the physical mechanisms that produce colors to how the structures grow in living organisms. “This idea of biomimicry can help solve practical problems but also enables us to test the mechanistic and developmental hypotheses we’ve proposed,” he said.
Natural melanosomes found in bird feathers vary in size and particularly shape, forming rods and spheres that can be solid or hollow. The next step is to vary the shapes of nanoparticles of polydopamine to mimic that variety to experimentally test how size and shape influence the particle’s interactions with light, and therefore the color of the material. Ultimately, the team hopes to generate a palette of biocompatible, structural color.
Finnish researchers at Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT) believe it may be possible to replace copper wire used in motors with spun carbon nanotubes. From an Oct. 15, 2014 news item on Azonano,
Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT) introduces the first electrical motor applying carbon nanotube yarn. The material replaces copper wires in windings. The motor is a step towards lightweight, efficient electric drives. Its output power is 40 W and rotation speed 15000 rpm.
Aiming at upgrading the performance and energy efficiency of electrical machines, higher-conductivity wires are searched for windings. Here, the new technology may revolutionize the industry. The best carbon nanotubes (CNTs) demonstrate conductivities far beyond the best metals; CNT windings may have double the conductivity of copper windings.
”If we keep the design parameters unchanged only replacing copper with carbon nanotube yarns, the Joule losses in windings can be reduced to half of present machine losses. By lighter and more ecological CNT yarn, we can reduce machine dimensions and CO2 emissions in manufacturing and operation. Machines could also be run in higher temperatures,” says Professor Pyrhönen [Juha Pyrhönen], leading the prototype design at LUT.
Traditionally, the windings in electrical machines are made of copper, which has the second best conductivity of metals at room temperature. Despite the high conductivity of copper, a large proportion of the electrical machine losses occur in the copper windings. For this reason, the Joule losses are often referred to as copper losses. The carbon nanotube yarn does not have a definite upper limit for conductivity (e.g. values of 100 MS/m have already been measured).
According to Pyrhönen, the electrical machines are so ubiquitous in everyday life that we often forget about their presence. In a single-family house alone there can be tens of electrical machines in various household appliances such as refrigerators, washing machines, hair dryers, and ventilators.
“In the industry, the number of electrical motors is enormous: there can be up to tens of thousands of motors in a single process industry unit. All these use copper in the windings. Consequently, finding a more efficient material to replace the copper conductors would lead to major changes in the industry,” tells Professor Pyrhönen.
There are big plans for this work according to the press release,
The prototype motor uses carbon nanotube yarns spun and converted into an isolated tape by a Japanese-Dutch company Teijin Aramid, which has developed the spinning technology in collaboration with Rice University, the USA. The industrial applications of the new material are still in their infancy; scaling up the production capacity together with improving the yarn performance will facilitate major steps in the future, believes Business Development Manager Dr. Marcin Otto from Teijin Aramid, agreeing with Professor Pyrhönen.
“There is a significant improvement potential in the electrical machines, but we are now facing the limits of material physics set by traditional winding materials. Superconductivity appears not to develop to such a level that it could, in general, be applied to electrical machines. Carbonic materials, however, seem to have a pole position: We expect that in the future, the conductivity of carbon nanotube yarns could be even three times the practical conductivity of copper in electrical machines. In addition, carbon is abundant while copper needs to be mined or recycled by heavy industrial processes.”
The researchers have produced this video about their research,
I’ve written about Cientifica and its reports before including their previous ‘smart’ textiles report (Nanotechnologies for Textile Markets published in April 2012; scroll down about 1/2 way) in (coincidentally) a May 15, 2012 posting about textiles and nanotechnology.
Expanded and revised for 2013, over 264 pages “Smart Textiles and Nanotechnologies: Applications Technologies and Markets” looks at the technologies involved, the companies applying them, and the impact on sectors including apparel, home, military, technical and medical textiles.
Detailed market figures are given from 2012-2022, along with an analysis of the key opportunities, illustrated with 123 figures and 14 tables.
With over a billion Bluetooth enabled devices on the market, ranging from smartphones to set top boxes, and new technologies such as energy scavenging or piezoelectric energy generation being made possible by the use of nanotechnologies , there are opportunities for the textile industry in new markets ranging from consumer electronics to medical diagnostics.
This report provides an in-depth presentation of recent developments in nanotechnology applied to smart textiles and provides market opportunities to 2022. The market is segmented by
Clothing & Apparel
Technical and Smart Textiles
Companies mentioned in this report include:
Advanced Nano Products, Inc.AiQ Smart Clothing Inc.
Balton Sp. Z.o.o
Beijing ChamGo Nano-Tech CoBelt Tech
BigSky Technologies LLC
Cyanine Technologies srlDaniel Hechter,
Duke University, USA
DuPont Speciality ChemicalsDuro Textiles
Forster Rohner AG
Kao Corp. Japan
Kennedy & Violich ArchitectureKing’s Metal Fiber Technologies
Levi StrauusLG Chem
Lockheed Martin Corp
Marks & SpencerMC10
Nano Phase Technologies Corporation (NTC)
Piedmont Chemical Industries, Inc
Polo Ralph LaurenPolar Elektro
SparkFunSphelar Power Corp.
Takeda Chemical Industries
Teijin Fibres Ltd
Texnology Nano Textile (China), Ltd.Tex-Ray
United Textile Mills
Unexpectedly, I noticed a couple of Canadian entries in the company list: Arc’teryx and Canada Goose.
Cientifica was founded as CMP Cientifica in Madrid in 1997 in order to meet the advanced analytical needs of the European Space Agency.
By 2000 the company was already meeting the increasing demand for information on emerging technologies to both the business and academic communities. Cientifica also launched Europe’s largest nanotechnology conference; TNT 2000, the world’s first conference dealing with investing in nanotechnologies; I2Nano, and the worlds first weekly information source dedicated to Nanotechnology; TNT Weekly.
In 2002 Cientifica published the first edition of ‘The Nanotechnology Opportunity Report’, described by NASA as “the defining report in the field of nanotechnology.”
Cientifica is distinct from all other companies providing consulting and information services. It combines knowledge and expertise in both the science and business of emerging technologies, with nearly 20 years’ experience in the field of science and research, and nearly 10 years’ providing information on the business and science of emerging technologies. Cientifica employees are all highly experienced technical project managers and familiar not only with the commercialization of technology but also with the technology transfer of science from the laboratory to the marketplace.
The cost of this latest ‘smart’ textiles report is: GBP 1499.00 / USD 2349.00.
The big news is that a multinational team has managed to spin carbon nanotubes (after 10 years of work) into threads that look like black cotton and display both the properties of metal wires and of carbon fibers. Here’s more from the Jan. 10, 2013 news item on ScienceDaily,
“We finally have a nanotube fiber with properties that don’t exist in any other material,” said lead researcher Matteo Pasquali, professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering and chemistry at Rice. “It looks like black cotton thread but behaves like both metal wires and strong carbon fibers.”
The research team includes academic, government and industrial scientists from Rice; Teijin Aramid’s headquarters in Arnhem, the Netherlands; the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, Israel; and the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) in Dayton, Ohio.
The phenomenal properties of carbon nanotubes have enthralled scientists from the moment of their discovery in 1991. The hollow tubes of pure carbon, which are nearly as wide as a strand of DNA, are about 100 times stronger than steel at one-sixth the weight. Nanotubes’ conductive properties — for both electricity and heat — rival the best metal conductors. They also can serve as light-activated semiconductors, drug-delivery devices and even sponges to soak up oil.
Unfortunately, carbon nanotubes are also the prima donna of nanomaterials [emphasis mine]; they are difficult to work with, despite their exquisite potential. For starters, finding the means to produce bulk quantities of nanotubes took almost a decade. Scientists also learned early on that there were several dozen types of nanotubes — each with unique material and electrical properties; and engineers have yet to find a way to produce just one type. Instead, all production methods yield a hodgepodge of types, often in hairball-like clumps.
Creating large-scale objects from these clumps of nanotubes has been a challenge. A threadlike fiber that is less than one-quarter the thickness of a human hair will contain tens of millions of nanotubes packed side by side. Ideally, these nanotubes will be perfectly aligned — like pencils in a box — and tightly packed. Some labs have explored means of growing such fibers whole, but the production rates for these “solid-state” fibers have proven quite slow compared with fiber-production methods that rely on a chemical process called “wet spinning.” In this process, clumps of raw nanotubes are dissolved in a liquid and squirted through tiny holes to form long strands.
Thank you to the writer of the Rice University news release for giving me the phrase “prima donna of nanomaterials.”
The news release goes on to describe the years of work and collaboration needed to arrive at this point,
Shortly after arriving at Rice in 2000, Pasquali began studying CNT wet-spinning methods with the late Richard Smalley, a nanotechnology pioneer and the namesake of Rice’s Smalley Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology. In 2003, two years before his untimely death, Smalley worked with Pasquali and colleagues to create the first pure nanotube fibers. The work established an industrially relevant wet-spinning process for nanotubes that was analogous to the methods used to create high-performance aramid fibers — like Teijin’s Twaron — which are used in bulletproof vests and other products. But the process needed to be refined. The fibers weren’t very strong or conductive, due partly to gaps and misalignment of the millions of nanotubes inside them.
“Achieving very high packing and alignment of the carbon nanotubes in the fibers is critical,” said study co-author Yeshayahu Talmon, director of Technion’s Russell Berrie Nanotechnology Institute, who began collaborating with Pasquali about five years ago.
The next big breakthrough came in 2009, when Talmon, Pasquali and colleagues discovered the first true solvent for nanotubes — chlorosulfonic acid. For the first time, scientists had a way to create highly concentrated solutions of nanotubes, a development that led to improved alignment and packing.
“Until that time, no one thought that spinning out of chlorosulfonic acid was possible because it reacts with water,” Pasquali said. “A graduate student in my lab, Natnael Bahabtu, found simple ways to show that CNT fibers could be spun from chlorosulfonic acid solutions. That was critical for this new process.”
Pasquali said other labs had found that the strength and conductivity of spun fibers could also be improved if the starting material — the clumps of raw nanotubes — contained long nanotubes with few atomic defects. In 2010, Pasquali and Talmon began experimenting with nanotubes from different suppliers and working with AFRL scientists to measure the precise electrical and thermal properties of the improved fibers.
During the same period, Otto [Marcin Otto, Business Development Manager at Teijin Aramid] was evaluating methods that different research centers had proposed for making CNT fibers. He envisaged combining Pasquali’s discoveries, Teijin Aramid’s know-how and the use of long CNTs to further the development of high performance CNT fibers. In 2010, Teijin Aramid set up and funded a project with Rice, and the company’s fiber-spinning experts have collaborated with Rice scientists throughout the project.
“The Teijin scientific and technical help led to immediate improvements in strength and conductivity,” Pasquali said.
Study co-author Junichiro Kono, a Rice professor of electrical and computer engineering, said, “The research showed that the electrical conductivity of the fibers could be tuned and optimized with techniques that were applied after initial production. This led to the highest conductivity ever reported for a macroscopic CNT fiber.”
The fibers reported in Science have about 10 times the tensile strength and electrical and thermal conductivity of the best previously reported wet-spun CNT fibers, Pasquali said. The specific electrical conductivity of the new fibers is on par with copper, gold and aluminum wires, but the new material has advantages over metal wires.
Here’s an explanatory video the researchers have provided,
“Our carbon nanotube fibers combine high thermal and electrical conductivity, like that seen in metals, with the flexibility, robust handling and strength of textile fibers”, explained Marcin Otto, Business Development Manager at Teijin Aramid. “With that novel combination of properties it is possible to use CNT fibers in many applications in the aerospace, automotive, medical and (smart) clothing industries.”
Teijin’s cooperation and involvement was crucial to the project. Twaron technology enabled improved performance, and an industrially scalable production method. That makes it possible to find applications for CNT fibers in a range of commercial or industrial products. “This research and ongoing tests offer us a glimpse into the potential future possibilities of this new fiber. For example, we have been very excited by the interest of innovative medical doctors and scientists exploring the possibilities to use CNT fiber in surgical operations and other applications in the medical field”, says Marcin Otto. Teijin Aramid expects to replace the copper in data cables and light power cables used in the aerospace and automotive industries, to make aircraft and high end cars lighter and more robust at the same time. Other applications could include integrating light weight electronic components, such as antennas, into composites, or replacing cooling systems in electronics where the high thermal conductivity of carbon nanotube fiber can help to dissipate heat.
Teijin Aramid is currently trialing samples of CNT fiber on a small scale with the most active prospective customers. Building up a robust supply chain is high on the project team’s list of priorities. As well as their carbon fiber, aramid fiber and polyethylene tape, this new carbon nanotube fiber is expected to allow Teijin to offer customers an even broader portfolio of high performance materials.
Teijin Group (which is headquartered in Japan) has been mentioned here before notably in a July 19, 2010 posting about a textile inspired by a butterfly’s wing (Morphotex) which, sadly, is no longer being produced as noted in a more recent April 12, 2012 posting about Teijin’s then new fiber ‘Nanofront™’ for use in sports socks.
The Morpho butterfly is a singularly beautiful blue impossible for artists to reproduce with pigments as the colour is due to nanostructures which cause the wing’s unique optical properties. (Image copied from Wikipedia essay on Morpho butterflies.)
Photograph of a Blue Morpho butterfly (Morpho menelaus) by Gregory Phillips.
The butterfly has excited a lot of interest in the nanotechnology field and this morning (Jan. 17, 2011) research scientists (Clint Landrock and Bozena Kaminska) based at Simon Fraser University (Vancouver, Canada) announced that in an effort to eliminate currency fraud they have found a way to duplicate the butterfly’s optical properties on paper currency. It all starts with holes (from the Jan. 17, 2011 news release),
Imagine a hole so small that air can’t go through it, or a hole so small it can trap a single wavelength of light. Nanotech Security Corp., with the help of Simon Fraser University researchers, is using this type of nano-technology – 1,500 times thinner than a human hair and first of its kind in the world – to create unique anti-counterfeiting security features.
How this works is microscopic gratings composed of nanostructures interact with light to produce the shimmering iridescence seen on the Costa Rican morpho butterfly. The nanostructures act to reflect and refract light waves to produce the morpho’s signature blue wings and absorb other unwanted light.
The highly advanced wing structures are the result of many millennia of evolution, and only recently have Nanotech’s scientists discovered how to reproduce these structures reliably. While others have talked about the possibility of re-creating it, Nanotech has made this a reality.
The U.S. Treasury, which produces up to 11 billion banknotes annually, is a potential customer for Nanotech’s product. The new U.S. $100 bill, designed with state-of-the art security features, was supposed to be introduced in February 2011 but it’s been delayed due to some manufacturing issues.
According to Blakeway [Doug Blakeway, SFU Venture Connection’s entrepreneur in residence and also CEO and chairman of Nanotech Security Corp.], Nanotech’s product – which has attracted the attention of treasuries internationally – is superior to holograms and can’t be duplicated.
“Nobody has ever done this,” he said. “We have succeeded while everybody is still trying to duplicate or imitate a butterfly’s wing because it absorbs light and gives off the color. There’s no color pigment – there’s nothing like a dye or anything else. It’s a hole that traps light and releases color.
“You can’t copy or scan it in, you can’t inkjet it on paper, you can’t do any of these things. It’s extremely sophisticated and expensive to make the shims and dyes to produce, but very inexpensive to produce it at the end. Anywhere you can think of where a hologram is being used today, our technology can replace it. It’s more secure than a hologram. You can’t lift it off – we can put it onto metal, plastic, or paper.”
There is a video clip of a Discovery Planet item about the scientists’ presentation at the recent Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show. (Note: The clip is about 11 minutes long and the ‘Morpho’ money item is partway through.)
I’m a little puzzled about whether or not this is really the first time (as Nanotech Security Corp. claims) someone else has been able to reproduce the butterfly’s optical properties since there is a company in Japan, Teijin, which produces ‘Morphotex’, a textile that has the same properties as the butterfly. This was mentioned in my July 19, 2010 posting which also features an image of Donna Sgro’s dress made from the textile.
Mimicking the structures found on butterfly wings, the fabric morphotex was used by Australian designer Donna Sgro in the dress she submitted to the Trash Fashion exhibition at Antenna, a science gallery at London’s Science Museum. (I previously posted about this show in Bacteria as couture and transgenic salmon?)
According to Jasmic Malik Chua’s article at Ecouterre,
… designer Donna Sgro fashioned the frock from the Morphotex, a nanotechnology-based, structurally colored fiber that mimics the microscopic structure of the Morpho butterfly’s wings, which despite lacking color, appear a shimmery cobalt blue. Manufactured by Teijin in Japan, Morphotex requires no dyes or pigments, nor the prodigious amount of water and energy used in conventional dyeing.
Here’s a detail of the dress from one of the many images available at Ecouterre,
Donna Sgro’s morphotext dress for Trash Fashion
This certainly sounds like a promising development. You can find some information about the product morphotex here at AskNature where you’ll find details including a patent number. Teijin’s (the manufacturer) English language website is here. Donna Sgro’s website is here.
You can find London’s Science Museum website here but I had a hard time finding anything more than this about Trash Fashion on their site.