Home / Knowledge / News / Textiles / Cambridge team makes strong fibres from soupy material
Cambridge team makes strong fibres from soupy material
14
Jul '17
Courtesy: University of Cambridge
Courtesy: University of Cambridge
Scientists at the University of Cambridge have designed super-stretchy and strong fibres which are almost entirely composed of water, and could be used to make textiles, sensors and other materials. The fibres, which resemble miniature bungee cords as they can absorb large amounts of energy, are sustainable, non-toxic and can be made at room temperature.

This new method by a team of architects and chemists not only improves upon earlier methods of making synthetic spider silk, since it does not require high energy procedures or extensive use of harmful solvents, but it could substantially improve methods of making synthetic fibres of all kinds, since other types of synthetic fibres also rely on high-energy, toxic methods. The results are reported in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Spider silk is one of nature’s strongest materials, and scientists have been attempting to mimic its properties for a range of applications, with varying degrees of success. “We have yet to fully recreate the elegance with which spiders spin silk,” said co-author Dr. Darshil Shah from Cambridge’s Department of Architecture.

The fibres designed by the Cambridge team are “spun” from a soupy material called a hydrogel, which is 98 per cent water. The remaining two per cent of the hydrogel is made of silica and cellulose, both naturally available materials, held together in a network by barrel-shaped molecular “handcuffs” known as cucurbiturils. The chemical interactions between the different components enable long fibres to be pulled from the gel.

The fibres are pulled from the hydrogel, forming long, extremely thin threads - a few millionths of a metre in diameter. After roughly 30 seconds, the water evaporates, leaving a fibre which is both strong and stretchy.

“Although our fibres are not as strong as the strongest spider silks, they can support stresses in the range of 100 to 150 megapascals, which is similar to other synthetic and natural silks,” said Shah. “However, our fibres are non-toxic and far less energy-intensive to make.”

The fibres are capable of self-assembly at room temperature, and are held together by supramolecular host-guest chemistry, which relies on forces other than covalent bonds, where atoms share electrons.

“When you look at these fibres, you can see a range of different forces holding them together at different scales,” said Yuchao Wu, a PhD student in Cambridge’s Department of Chemistry, and the paper’s lead author. “It’s like a hierarchy that results in a complex combination of properties.”

The strength of the fibres exceeds that of other synthetic fibres, such as cellulose-based viscose and artificial silks, as well as natural fibres such as human or animal hair.

In addition to its strength, the fibres also show very high damping capacity, meaning that they can absorb large amounts of energy, similar to a bungee cord. There are very few synthetic fibres which have this capacity, but high damping is one of the special characteristics of spider silk. The researchers found that the damping capacity in some cases even exceeded that of natural silks.

“We think that this method of making fibres could be a sustainable alternative to current manufacturing methods,” said Shah. The researchers plan to explore the chemistry of the fibres further, including making yarns and braided fibres.

This research is the result of collaboration between the Melville Laboratory for Polymer Synthesis in the Department of Chemistry, led by Professor Oren Scherman; and the Centre for Natural Material Innovation in the Department of Architecture, led by Dr Michael Ramage. The two groups have a mutual interest in natural and nature-inspired materials, processes and their applications across different scales and disciplines.

The research is supported by the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the Leverhulme Trust. (SV)

Fibre2Fashion News Desk – India


Must ReadView All

ITC, ICS tie up to help Moroccan textile value chain

Textiles | On 21st Apr 2018

ITC, ICS tie up to help Moroccan textile value chain

The International Trade Centre (ITC) has partnered with ICS, which...

Bangladesh garment manufacturers call for fair pricing

Apparel/Garments | On 21st Apr 2018

Bangladesh garment manufacturers call for fair pricing

Bangladesh garment manufacturers want a ‘commensurate adjustment’ by...

Pak ministry proposes extension to PM package for 2018-19

Textiles | On 21st Apr 2018

Pak ministry proposes extension to PM package for 2018-19

Pakistani textile ministry has reportedly proposed extending the...

Interviews View All

Abhimanyu Singh Rathore & Barbara Anna Kosiorek
Kannbar

‘Blending cultures is the true beauty of fashion, where one’s imagination...

Top executives
Textile industry, India

The event should be organised every year

Victor Chao
Esmetex

‘In future, clothing boundary lines will become increasingly blurred.’

Abhishek Pachauri

Reckon Industries adapts latest systems for manufacturing from designing...

Sandip Bhojani, Manthan Patel

Krypthm Tradelink LLP is a Surat-based manufacturer of westernwear....

C Dhandayuthapani

MAG Solvics Private Limited was established in 1991 to design and develop...

Suresh Patel
Sidwin Fabric

Sidwin Fabric is a manufacturer and exporter of polypropylene textiles and ...

Lynda Kelly
Suominen Corporation

Suominen Corporation is a manufacturer of nonwovens as roll goods for...

Mark Paterson
Technical Absorbents Ltd

Mark Paterson, R&D manager of Technical Absorbents Ltd talks about Super...

Silvia Venturini Fendi
Fendi s.r.l

"Yes, my confidence and positive attitude are my strengths and should be...

Aditi Somani
Aditi Somani

Aditi Somani specialises in luxury fusion wear with international cuts and ...

Anisha Chaudhari
Threads & Shirts

Threads & Shirts is a freshly-tailored concept providing men/women a...

Press Release

Press Release

Letter to Editor

Letter to Editor

RSS Feed

RSS Feed

Submit your press release on


editorial@fibre2fashion.com

Letter To Editor






(Max. 8000 char.)

Search Companies





SEARCH

Leave your Comments


April 2018

Subscribe today and get the latest update on Textiles, Fashion, Apparel and so on.

news category


Related Categories:

Planning to Take the Leap towards
Sustainability?

Do you see sustainability as a route to business growth?

Yes No

Do you think the sustainability space has the needed tools and resources available for a business to lead change?

Yes No

Active Poll

Do you see sustainability as a route to business growth?

Yes
69.9%
No
12.6%
Skip
17.5%

Total Votes: 103

Do you think adopting a sustainable approach will be a profitable move for your business?

Yes No

Active Poll

Do you think the sustainability space has the needed tools and resources available for a business to lead change?

Yes
63.1%
No
29.1%
Skip
7.8%

Total Votes: 103

Do you want the world to know about your sustainability journey and your business’ environmental footprint?

Yes No

Active Poll

Do you think adopting a sustainable approach will be a profitable move for your business?

Yes
87.4%
No
8.7%
Skip
3.9%

Total Votes: 103

Thanks for your valuable feedback. Claim your free latest sustainability e-book.

Active Poll

Do you want the world to know about your sustainability journey and your business’ environmental footprint?

Yes
82.5%
No
7.8%
Skip
9.7%

Total Votes: 103


E-News Insight
Subscribe Today and Get the
Latest News Update in Your Mail Box.
Advanced Search