Authors: T.W. Nilsson, J.H. Johnston
Affilation: Victoria University of Wellington and MacDiarmid Institute of Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology, New Zealand
Pages: 362 - 364
Keywords: gold nanoparticles, wool, nanocomposites, scale-up, apparel, textiles
The development of novel nanocomposites of metal nanoparticles and natural fibers has allowed the engineering of flexible materials with the desirable properties of metal nanoparticles for numerous applications. One class of novel nanocomposites uses gold nanoparticles as luxury dyes to color merino wool fibers. Gold nanoparticles exhibit localised surface plasmon resonances that are dependent on the size and shape of the particles, and manipulating these allows for a boutique color range of the nanocomposites. This innovative nanotechnology utilises the affinity of gold for sulfur-containing cystine residues in wool fibers to bind the gold nanoparticles. The nanocomposites are being fabricated into high quality fashion apparel for international markets. There are numerous size-controllable syntheses of gold colloids at the laboratory-scale. However, when the process is scaled-up, nanoparticle synthesis is more difficult, and preventing color variation across a kilogram of woollen yarn is a significant challenge. To overcome this, industrial package dyeing flow reactors and auxiliary reagents that control nanoparticle absorption were used together to uniformly color kilogram quantities of fine merino yarn. The science of the technology and the pathway to pilot scale synthesis of gold nanoparticle-wool fiber composites will be presented, offering insights to aid the scaling-up of other nanocomposites.