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Functional nanofibers to decompose toxic chemicals in fabrics

23
May '08
Juan P. Hinestroza, Assistant Professor of fiber science in College of Human Ecology
Cornell fiber scientist Juan Hinestroza is working with the U.S. government to create fabrics made of functional nanofibers that would decompose toxic industrial chemicals into harmless byproducts.

Nylon nanofibers coated with metal nanoparticles. These functional nanofibers have potential applications as active air filtration media as well as flexible antibacterial surfaces such as wipes, carpets and upholstery.

Potential applications include safety gear for U.S. soldiers and filtration systems for buildings and vehicles.

Hinestroza, assistant professor of fiber science in the College of Human Ecology, is a member of two teams that secured more than $2.2 million from the U.S.

Department of Defense; about $875,000 will go directly to Hinestoza's work. Both grants are multi-university collaborative efforts funded through the U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency.

"These nanostructures could be used in creating advanced air filtration and personal protection systems against airborne chemical threats and can find many applications in buildings, airplanes as well as personal respirators," Hinestroza said.

The first project, in collaboration with North Carolina State University, is aimed at understanding how very small electrical charges present in fibers and nanofibers can help in capturing nanoparticles, bacteria and viruses.

"Understanding how these charges are injected into the fibers and how they are dissipated under different environmental conditions can open an avenue to significant improvements in air filtration technology," Hinestroza said.


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