Nanotechnology has increasingly enabled manufacturers to develop smart materials for a range of purposes. One interesting project is underway in Portugal to develop fabrics to help people with eczema.
The team, from the Centre for Nanotechnology and Smart Materials (CENTI), are combining nanotech with plant oil. The solution sees the oil pumped into tiny capsules that are programmed to release the oil only when bacteria is present that causes eczema.
The nanotech-capsules are attached to the clothing using covalent bonding, which ensures they are sufficiently robust to survive all that we can throw at them, although the oil inside the capsules obviously has a limited lifespan, dependent upon how often it is used to attack the infection.
Multiple use cases
The team believe that the technology could have a number of use cases, over and above helping to treat eczema. For instance, the capsules could contain paraffin, which has the ability to both absorb and release energy. This could be great for thermal clothing and help keep wearers both warm or cold depending on the circumstances.
They believe this could be especially useful for people who cannot regulate their body temperature, whether young children or athletes undergoing rigorous activity.
There have been a growing number of smart fabrics entering the markets for both healthcare and athletics, but this is arguably the most innovative application. It will be fascinating to see just where the project goes from here.