Tiny plastic fibers could be the key to some diverse technologies in the future — including self-cleaning surfaces, transparent electronics, and biomedical tools that manipulate strands of DNA.
In the June issue of the journal Nature Nanotechnology, Ohio State University researchers describe how they created surfaces that, seen with the eye, look as flat and transparent as a sheet of glass. But seen up close, the surfaces are actually carpeted with tiny fibers.
To help light up the nanoworld, a Cornell interdisciplinary team of researchers has produced microscopic “nanolamps” — light-emitting nanofibers about the size of a virus or the tiniest of bacteria.
In a collaboration of experts in organic materials and nanofabrication, researchers have created one of the smallest organic light-emitting devices to date, made up of synthetic fibers just 200 nanometers wide (1 nanometer is one-billionth of a meter). The potential applications are in flexible electronic products, which are being made increasingly smaller.
Fashion designers and fiber scientists at Cornell have taken “functional clothing” to a whole new level. They have designed a garment that can prevent colds and flu and never needs washing, and another that destroys harmful gases and protects the wearer from smog and air pollution.
The two-toned gold dress and metallic denim jacket, featured at the April 21 Cornell Design League fashion show, contain cotton fabrics coated with nanoparticles that give them functional qualities never before seen in the fashion world.