What if the climax of smart clothing was self-healing clothing, which aims at protecting and regenerating not only the clothes, but also the wearer? Well, this technology was inspired by Mother Nature’s own tricks: welcome to the Biomimicry era, where Nature is the richest inspiration source for groundbreaking innovations that could be applied to Fashion.
A group of Pennsylvanians researchers from PennState implemented a new way to produce fabric in order for it to be self-healing and act as a barrier between the bearer and the outside world. By dipping the fabrics in several liquids, they create layers of material that then form a polyelectrolyte layer-by-layer coating.
Similar to polymers present in Nature in the form of squid ring teeth proteins, positively and negatively charged polymers compose the polyelectrolyte coating. These quite amazing proteins already inspired the team to create a self-healing plastic last year.
For the coating to protect the human body, enzymes can be incorporated into it during the layering: when matched to the harmful chemical being targeted, the enzymes would make the coating tailored to protect the wearer from being contaminated.
“We were looking for a way to make fabrics self-healing using conventional textiles. So we came up with this coating technology” explains Melik C. Demirel, Professor of Engineering Science & Mechanics at Penn State, “If you need to use enzymes for biological or chemical effects, you can have an encapsulated enzyme with self-healing properties degrading the toxin before it reaches the skin.”
According to the team, this process could be a way to avoid the dangers for those who work on contact with toxic products. It could also be a way to reduce the risks of medical infections for the hospitals’ patients. Furthermore, this technology would not be so hard to settle as it uses cheap raw materials and relies on equipment already available for the great distribution. All they need to work on from now on is to point out which enzymes should be used as protection.
Could clothes finally fulfill their protecting duty?
Post written by Sarah Banon, Contributor
Graduate student from French Business School ESSEC, Sarah is passionate about fashion and spends her free time writing. She is very curious and likes to discover and study new trends. She joined Clausette Magazine in May 2016.