According to the Consumer Products Inventory more than 1,600 products are currently manufactured with nanocomponents - nanoparticles that are between one and 100 nanometres (between one and 100 billionths of a metre) across. Apparel is among the products listed in the survey. Today many clothing producers use nanoparticles as coatings on clothing to make it waterproof, microbicidal, UV-blocking or antistatic. As a rule, the following types of nanoparticles are added to the clothes:
Many clothing manufacturers add silver nanoparticles that kill bacteria and fungi to prevent the unpleasant odors they cause. Nanosilver particles release positively charged ions that destroy bacterial cells. Due to the minute size of the particles the piece of apparel stays soft and wearable.
Silica for waterproofing and stain resistance
Nanoparticles of silica added to a fabric or sprayed onto its surface form a coating that repels water and stain-producing liquids. The silica coating ensures that liquids create beads that roll off the fabric and prevent soaking into it
Sunblocking titanium dioxide and zinc oxide
To prevent consumers from getting sunburnt through the garments many manufacturers incorporate nanoparticles of titanium dioxide or zinc oxide into textiles to protect your clothing and your skin from sun damage. The companies use nanoparticles because they are the most effective in scattering the ultraviolet light in sunlight.
It is a well-known fact that synthetic fabrics like polyester and nylon gather static charge. But nanoparticles that conduct electricity, including zinc oxide, titanium dioxide and antimony-doped tin oxide, are able to disperse this charge.
Currently, clothes containing nanotechnology are mainly made from standard fabrics with application of nano-coating. But in the future more fabrics made from nanofibres are to be produced, with nanoparticles and nanofilaments woven into them. A new era of "smart" fabrics that would automatically respond to your body and the environment surrounding you is to come.
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