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Intelligent, Stimuli-Sensitive Fibers and Fabrics


Gisela Buschle-Diller, leader, Aliecia McClain, William K. Walsh, previous leader, retired (Auburn), Weiping Lin (Polymer Group), Sam Hudson (NC State) Materials that respond sharply to small changes in pH, temperature, light, electrolyte content, etc., are of increasing interest for the textile industry. These materials are usually polymeric gels with low mechanical stability. By incorporating these stimuli-sensitive polymers (SSP's) in textile structures we can combine the mechanical properties of textiles with the environmental responsiveness of SSPs.

Using this UV-curing technique we are now varying the amount of water present in the system to produce a wide variety of products with very different properties. The water content seems to have a significant effect on the swelling potential, but not on the total swelling rate. Gel crosslinking properties are subject to UV intensity and exposure time. High intensity UV radiation is advantageous for the speed of the process; however, it is questionable whether very rapidly formed crosslinks also benefit the properties of the product.

Stimuli-sensitive materials change their properties upon tiny environmental changes.

Coating, radiation grafting, high-intensity UV-curing and wet-spinning of cross-linked gels into fibers are techniques that generate such structures. Upon exposure to a specific stimuli, e.g., a change in pH of the surrounding solution, the SSP dramatically swells or collapses. SSP's can thus function as a reservoir for a chemical compound to be released on demand (See Figure below). Possible applications are controlled-delivery of functional substances (drugs, nutrients, herbicides, etc.), temperature and moisture regulation, separation, communication, robotic muscles, sensors and quality control. Ultimately, we expect these studies to lead to an understanding of smart materials with triggerable microdomains capable of interacting with external agents.
Changes in temperature, pH, light, etc. SSP layers Fiber Fiber

Gel in dry state.

Gel in swollen state. Gel Cross-section Magnification x1000.

With the help of direct dyes we are presently studying the absorption and desorption behavior of our SSP's and their possible application as pumps/reservoirs for chemical components in general. Chitosan Systems Chitosan can be crosslinked and UV-cured or directly spun into fibers. Swelling of these products strongly depends on the amount of crosslinker which in turn determines their strength. Very small amounts of surfactants can trigger the collapse of such fibers. [Contributing Graduate Students: Changqing Chen, Andrew Hawkins (Auburn); Research Associates: Moussa Traore, Abby Whittington, Gary Blackmon (Auburn]
Industry Interactions: 6 [Milliken, & Co., EMS Associates, Technical Development Corporation, Patagonia, Sterling Fibers, Fusion Systems] Project web site address:

Swelling degress

Swollen SSP

Included compounds
Release of active compounds Collapsed SSP

Environmental change (temperature, pH, light, etc.) An SSP coated fiber swollen with an active substance. As the environment changes, SSP collapses dramatically and releases the active substance.

Initially we grafted SSP coatings to nylon and polypropylene textile base materials using gamma-rays. We also created a pH and electrolyte-sensitive coating with acrylic acid as monomer and a temperature-sensitive SSP compound with N-isopropylacrylamide as monomer. Later we applied a UV-curing technique to generate a thin SSP-film from N-vinyl pyrrolidone, acrylated urethane and a photoinitiator.

For further information: 1. W.K. Walsh, Intelligent, Stimuli-Sensitive Fibers, Conference on Intelligent Textiles, shortcourse., Providence RI, (June 2000). 2. G. Buschle-Diller, W. Walsh, S. Hudson, Intelligent, Stimuli-Sensitive Fibers and Fabrics, ITT Biannual Meeting, Charlottesville VA (Nov 2000) 3. Abby Whittington, Andrew Hawkins, Gary Blackmon, Gisela BuschleDiller, Simuli-Sensitive Textile Materials; AATCC 1999 International Conf. & Exhibition, Charlotte; second place winner in Herman and Myrtle Goldstein Student Paper Competition, (Oct 1999); submitted TCC & ADR. 4. Misuhiro Shibayama & Toyoichi Tanaka, Volume Phase Transition and Related Phenomena of Polymer Gels, Advances in Polymer Science, 109:1 (1993). 5. Stevin H. Gehrke, Synthesis, Equilibrium Swelling, Kinetics, Permeability, and Applications of Environmentally Responsive Gels, Advances in Polymer Science, .110:83 (1993). 6. F. L. Buchholz & A. T. Graham, Ed. Modern Superabsorbent Polymer Technology, Wiley VCH (1998). 7. Y.C. Wei and S.M. Hudson, Binding of Sodium Dodecyl Sulfate to a Polyelectrolyte Based on Chitosan Macromolecules, 26:4151 (1993). 8. Y.C. Wei, S.M. Hudson, J.M. Meyer and D.L. Kaplan, The Cross-Linking of Chitosan Fibers with Epichlorohydrin, J.Polym. Sci., Polym. Chem. Ed., 30:2187 (1992). 9. M. Logan, G. Cannon and C. McCormick, pH Responsive Microdomain Formation in a De Novo Polypeptide. Biopoly, 41:521 (1997).

National Textile Center Research Briefs - Materials Competency: June 2001

Gisela Buschle-Diller, an Assistant Professor of Textile Engineering at Auburn, joined the faculty in 1995. Gisela earned a Ph.D. in chemistry from the U. of Stuttgart (Germany) in 1989 with postdoctoral work at U. of California, Davis, in textiles and clothing. She worked at Berlin's Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Science and Rathgen Research Laboratories. Her research interests include dyeing and finishing, especially enzymatic processes, natural fibers, environmental issues and the history of dyes and textile materials. C96-A1*, M98-A16, C99-A7* giselabd@eng.auburn.edu (334)-844-5468 http://www.eng.auburn.edu/~giselabd Samuel M. Hudson, an Associate Professor at NC State, joined the faculty in 1987. He is also an Adjunct Assistant Professor in Art Conservation for the University of Delaware. Sam received a Ph.D. in fiber and polymer science at NC State in 1981 whereupon he became a senior chemist for DuPont before returning to NC State. His research interests include the development of "environmentallyfriendly" fibers, especially chitin and chitosan, and micromechanics of bone fracture. M93-S5*, M98-A16 sam_hudson@ncsu.edu (919)-515-6545 http://www.tx.ncsu.edu/college/personnel/shudson.html Weiping Lin, on the research faculty of Textile Engineering at Auburn since 1997, received a Ph.D. in fiber and polymer science from China Textile University (Shanghai) in 1990, then became an Assistant Professor of Material Science at Zhongshan University (Guangzhou, China). From 1994 to 1996 Weiping was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at CaliforniaDavis and Auburn. His research interests include polymer synthesis, fiber formation, surface modification, stimuli-sensitive polymers, advanced fibers and reclamation of textile waste. M98-A16 (334)-844-4327

Aliecia R. McClain, an Assistant Professor of Textile Engineering at Auburn, joined the faculty in 1998 when she earned her Ph.D. in agricultural and environmental chemistry at UC-Davis. Aliecia also has a B.S. in chemistry from Benedict College (SC) in 1985 and a M.S. in inorganic polymer chemistry from Clark-Atlanta University in 1990. Her research interests includes polymer synthesis, fiber and polymer science, and the use of chelating fibers and resins to treat effluents. M98-A16 amcclain@eng.auburn.edu (334)-844-5459 William K. Walsh, a Professor and Head of the Department of Textile Engineering at Auburn since 1989, received a Ph.D. in chemical engineering at NC State in 1967. He then joined the NC State faculty, becoming an Associate Dean in 1988. His research interests include mechanical and surface properties of polymers, esp. adhesive bonding of fabrics, wetting and wicking in porous media; electron beam and UV radiation polymerization and curing; and hydrophilic fiber finishes and moisture transport mechanisms for improved clothing comfort. C92-A4, C95-A8, C95-C14, C96-A1, M98-A16* wwalsh@eng.auburn.edu (334)-844-5452 http://www.eng.auburn.edu/department/te/faculty/Walsh

National Textile Center Research Briefs - Materials Competency: June 2001