Garment with Bacteria-trapping Nanofibres

Picture: Ong with her two garments

The dream of many women - a
dress that doesn´t need washing
© Anne Ju/Cornell Chronicle

The two-toned gold dress and metallic denim jacket, contain cotton fabrics coated with nanoparticles. Designed by Olivia Ong '07 in the College of Human Ecology's Department of Fiber Science and Apparel Design, the garments were infused with their unusual qualities by fibre science assistant professor Juan Hinestroza and his postdoctoral researcher Hong Dong. "We think this is one of the first times that nanotechnology has entered the fashion world," Hinestroza said. He noted one drawback may be the garments' price: one square yard of nano-treated cotton would cost about $10,000.

Closer inspection with a microscope of Ong's dress and jacket shows an army of electrostatically charged nanoparticles creating a protective shield around the cotton fibres in the top part of the dress. Dong explained that the fabrics were created by dipping them in solutions containing nanoparticles synthesized in Hinestroza's lab.

The upper portion of the dress contains cotton coated with silver nanoparticles. Dong first created positively charged cotton fibres using ammonium- and epoxy-based reactions, inducing positive ionization. The silver particles, about 10-20 nanometers across (a nanometer is one-billionth of a meter) were synthesized in citric acid, which prevented nanoparticle agglomeration. Dipping the positively charged cotton into the negatively charged silver nanoparticle solution resulted in the particles clinging to the cotton fibres.

Silver possesses natural antibacterial qualities that are strengthened at the nanoscale, thus giving Ong's dress the ability to deactivate many harmful bacteria and viruses. The silver infusion also reduces the need to wash the garment, since it destroys bacteria, and the small size of the particles prevents soiling and stains.; Source: Cornell University