Open Journal of Organic Polymer Materials, 2011, 3, 8-19
doi:10.4236/ojopm.2011.11002 Published Online October 2011 (
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. OJOPM
Improving Functional Characteristics of Wo ol and Some
Synthetic Fibres
O. G. Allam
National Research Cen tre, Textile Research Division, Dokki, Cairo, Egypt
E-mail: omaimaalaam@yahoo .com
Received August 22, 2011; revised September 28, 2011; accepted Octo ber 5, 2011
The present article reviews recent developments in different treatments that confer functional characteristics
on wool and some synthetic fibers such as acrylic, polyamide and polyester of these functionalities mention
is made of shrinkage-resistance, felt proofing, ant pilling, antimicrobial, surface properties (hydrophilic, soil
-resistance, water and oil-repellency), self-cleaning, anti odor and flame retardant. The article also illustrates
nanotechnology applications to improve and / or to induce some of these properties. Improvement of these
properties can give the fibres an important position between the textile fibres which make them more con-
venient in different uses.
Keywords: Functional, Wool, Synthetic Fibres
1. Introduction
The different types of textiles are (A): natural fibres such
as cotton, wool and silk) and (B): man-made fibers, syn-
thetic fibres (polyester-polyamide-acrylic), regenerated
cellulosic fibres (viscose) and their blend fibres. All fi-
bers types are negatively affected by the economic slump.
World wool production has con tinued downward, falling
in 2008, from about 3% to 1.16 million tons. Appro-
ximately world wool production is 1.3 million tons per
year. On the other hand, the global production trend in
synthetic fibres has been recently increased, especially
polyester fibres as shown under:
There are considerable amount of textile deficiencies.
Therefore, different methods of treatment are needed to
improve them.
Textiles are sometimes finished by ch emical processes
to change their characteristics. In the 19th century and
early 20th century starching was commonly used to make
clothing more resistant to stains and wrinkles.
Recently with advances in technologies such as pe-
rmanent press process, finishing agents have been used t o
strengthen fabrics and make them wrinkle free.
More recently, developed permanent treatments based
on metallic nanoparticles for making textiles more res-
istant to water, stains, wrinkles, and pathogens have led to
additional advancements. Text iles received a range of t re-
atments before they reach the end-user: from formal-
dehyde fi nishe s (t o im prove crease- resist ance) t o bi ocides
finishes and from flame retardants to dyeing of many
types of fabris, the possibilities are almost endless.
However, many of these finishes may also have detri-
mental effects on the end user. Consequently, presence of
chemical treatment, quality control and testing methods
are of utmost importance [1-4] .
The rapid growth in textile industry and in their
end-uses has generated many opportun ities for the appli-
cation of innovative chemical finishes. Hence, it is im-
portant to show the functional characteristics of wool and
some synthetic fibres such as felting & shrinkage, pilling ,
microbial, surface characteristics, etc.
Organically grown fibres can be treated with toxic ch-
emicals for the ‘proofing’ mentioned above, and these
chemicals can cause health and environm ent problem s [5].
2. Functional Properties
With respect to wool, there are two main deficiencies
shrinkage (felting) and pilling that should be eliminat ed to.
This could be achieved by varied treatments and methods
of application, namely, chemical, enzymatic, cyclodextrin,
sericin, and plasm a treatments as outlined below.
2.1. Shrinkage-Resistance
2.1.1. Che mi c al Treatments
Felting and shrin kage constitute wool disadvantage.
The hydrophobic nature and scale structure of the
wool fiber led to the fiber to move towards their root end
under mechanical action in the wet state [6].
Many methods and chemical treatments have been
developed for preventing shrinkage of wool fibres. The
first is coating with resins such as polyamide epichloro-
hydrin or grafting polymers onto wool fibres. The second
is morphological modification of the cuticular cells by
chemical or physical treatment [7].
Wool fibers were rendered shrink-proofing without ca-
using any damage to the hydrophobic nature of the scale
surface through treating them with glycerol polyglycidyl
ether (GPE) in concentrated salt so lutions.
The role of GPE is not to chemically modify the fibre
surface, but to crosslink the cuticular cells to prevent th-
eir edges from prominence in aqueous media. Excellent
shrinkage resistance can be imparted to wool by applying
GPE in saturated NaCl (sodium chloride) solution in the
presence of a reductive agent such as Sodium metab-
isulfite (Na2S2O5), while the hydrophobic nature of the
surface remains unchanged [7].
In addition, as treatment for shrinkage in wool fabric,
sodium methoxide or sodium hydroxide at low concen-
tration in a 2-propanol medium was used [8].
Moreover, dichlorodicyanuric acid (DCCA) oxidation
confers a negative charge on the wool fibre surface, gen-
erally attributed to conversion of cysteine amino acids to
cysteic acid and the formation of cystine sulfonic acid
[9-12]. Additionally DCCA is one of the oldest chlorin-
ating reagents for imparting shrinkage resistance to wool.
The 5% DCCA / hydrogen peroxide treatment improves
shrinkage resistance by 54% and whiteness by 63%
when compared to untreated fabrics [13].
2.1.2. Enzymes
Enzymes are biocatalysts or activators which can speed up
chemical processes that otherwise run slowly. The most of
enzymatic processes are combined with chemicals or
plasma radiations. A proteolytic enzyme derived from the
bacterium streptomycin fradiae has been applied on wool
to improve its shrinkage resi stance properti es.
Shrink reduction is greater with less intense washing
treatments. Although there is a certain amount of shri-
nkage reduction in severe washing methods, the effect is
not sufficient for practical purposes [14].
Pretreatment of the wool with proteolytic enzyme
papain improve shrinkage resistance to wool tops.
This process may be considered as a zero-absorbable
organohalogens (AOX) shrink-proofing treatment [15].
It was established that alkaline hydrogen peroxide
system that includes dicyandiamide, gluconic acid, and
triton surfactant, used alone or followed by enzyme
treatments, control shrinkage in wool fabrics to 30% and
1.2%, respectively [16].
Shrinkage of wool fabric can be controlled by oxida-
tion and protease treatment, however, strength loss usu-
ally results. There is reasonable expectation that by ap-
plying transglutaminase (TG) to oxidized and enzymati-
cally treated wool, strength can be increased [17].
2.1.3. Cycl odextrins
Cyclodextrins are cyclic oligosaccharides. These mole-
cules are able to form inclusion complexes with a large
number of organic molecules. The properties of cyclo-
dextrins enable them to be used in a variety of different
textile applications. Cyclodextrins may act as auxiliaries
in washing and dyeing processes. They could be made
new functional pro perties for textiles [18]. Cyclodextrins
are interesting in the optimization of textile technologies
as well. They have been used to remove surfactants from
the goods or to enhance activity of enzymatic processes in
finishing pr ocesses like degum ming, desizing, o r fel t -f ree
finishing of wool [19].
2.1.4. Sericin
Sericin is a biopolymer of molecular weight ranges be-
tween 10-300 k Da. About 50000 ton of sericin is pro-
duced annually during degumming of silk. Utilization of
sericin is limited to some nontextile uses; e.g., antioxi-
dant in the field of medicine, cosmetics and food anti-
bacterial products for diapers and wound dressing [20,
21]. Recently, Sericin is found to be efficient in felt
proofing wool fibers, especially in the presence of a
crosslinker such as Dimethylol Dihydroxy Ethylene Urea;
(DMDHEU), Dimethyl Dihydroxy Ethylene Urea
(DMeDHEU), or Epichlorohydrin (ECH). The felting
resistance of wool fibres treated with the system Hydro-
gen peroxide (H2O2) / Sodium sulfite (Na2SO3) /ser-
icin/ECH is the same as the felting resistance obtained by
using commercially available synthetic polymers. Being
a relatively cheap natural biodegradable polymer pro-
duced from renewable resources, sericin is an acceptable
base for felt proofin g t reat ments of wool t op s [22] .
2.1.5. Plasm a
Plasma, as a very active tool, can be used to modify the
surface of substrate known as plasma activation or plas-
ma modification to impart some desired properties [23].
Molina et al., have treated wool fabric with water va-
por plasma, which was produced in a radio-frequency
(RF) reactor with 100Pa and 100W at different treatment
times. The wool shrink tendency was clearly reduced
[24]. There are many different ways to induce the ioniza-
tion of gases such as Glow-Discharge, Corona Discharge
and Dielectric-Barrier Discharge. It is published that the
oxygen plasma treatments by using a glow discharge
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. OJOP M
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. OJOPM
2.2.2. Enzymes generator, of four types of wool fibre having different di-
ameters decreases felting [25]. It has recently been sh-
own that anti-felting behavior of wool fibres was impr-
oved using Argon (Ar) plasma treatment as shown as the
following Figure 1 [26].
Wool fabric can modified with ecologically acceptable
UV-assisted enzymatic treatments to reduce its pilling
with an acceptable loss in weight and strength of the fab-
ric [29]. Pilling is undesirable property that affects han-
dle and appearance of fabrics and a serious problem for
textile industry [27]. Using Hexanediol or pentaerythritol
to crosslink acrylic fibres that contain the methyl acryl
ate group improved the pilling performance of acrylic
fibres [30,31].
a) Untreated
b) No. 1: Sample was placed on the cathode: Ar gas
was used for 7 mi n
c) No. 2: Sample was placed on the cathode: O2 gas
was used for 7 mi n d) No. 3: Sample was placed on the Anode: O2 gas
was used for 7 mi n 2.3. Antimicrobial
e) No. 4: Sample was placed on the Anode: N2 gas
was used for 7 mi n Textiles have long been recognized as media to support
the growth of microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi.
These microorganisms are found almost everywhere in
the environment and can multiply quickly when basic
requirements, such as moisture, nutrients and tempera-
ture are met. Most synthetic fibres, due to their high hy-
drophobic, are more resistant to attacks by microorgan-
isms than natural fibres [32 ].
2.2. Anti-Pilling
Pilling of wool is a physical phenomenon that takes place
on the surface of a garment. The pills are formed during
wear and washing by the entanglement of loose fibres
present on the surface [27].
The application methods of antimicrobial agents and
some of the most recent developments in antimicrobial
treatments of textiles use various active agents such as
silver, quaternary ammonium salts, polyhexamethylene
biguanide, triclosan, chitosan, dyes and regenerable N-
halamine compounds and peroxyacids [33].
2.2.1. Plasm a
Plasma treatment of textile fabrics and yarns was inves-
tigated to improve pilling.
A thin film (Si : Ox : Cy : Hz ) was de posite d on knitted
wool fabrics by plasma low pressure using hexamethyld-
isiloxane as the monomer, and argon and oxygen as feed
gases to reducing pill formation of wool [28]. Methods of anti-microbial treatment of fibers include:
(1) Grafted, copolymers, (2) Synthetic dyes, (3) Qua-
(a) Untreated
(b) No 1 (c) No 2
(d) No 3 (e) No 4
Figure 1. Sample description.
ternary ammonium compounds, (4) Chitosan, (5) cyclo-
dextrins, (6) plasma.
2.3.1. Grafted Cop olymers
In order to obtain textile materials with antimicrobial
performances, the following procedures are used: (1)
impregnation of the fibrous material with a solution,
suspension or emulsion of the bactericidal (fungicidal)
product; (2) padding of an antimicrobial product, from its
soluble state into an insoluble one on the fibrous material;
(3) binding of an antimicrobial product on the fibre
through chemical bonds (ionic, coordinative, covalent);
(4) immersion of a bactericidal product either in the
spinning solution or melt, during preparation of the
chemical fibers. To have antimicro bial wool textile mate-
rials, methods based on binding of a bactericidal product
to functional groups of the fibrous material through
chemical links are used. Chemical binding of biologically
active products on wool fibres is performed either by
synthesis of grafted copolymers (bactericidal products
bind to the wool keratin) or by applying antimicrobial
dyes (acridines, aminoacridines, quinones, methylene
blue, etc.). The fabrics obtained by wool grafting demon-
strated good ioni c exchan ge p roperties [34,3 5] .
2.3.2. Synthetic Dyes
Some synthetic dyes are used in textile industry, e.g.
metallic dyestuff and have been specifically made with
antimicrobial activity.
New series of azo disperse dyestuffs; prepared by the
reaction of sulphanilamidodiazonium chloride derivatives
with indan-1, 3-dione, gave excellent dyeing and antim-
icrobial result s on wo ol and nylon [36] .
Novel cationic dyes were synthesized, showed varying
levels of antimicrobial activities, depending on their
structures, but when applied to acrylic fabrics the antim-
icrobial durability generally did not last for more than
five washes [37].
2.3.3. Quaternary Ammonium Compounds
Quaternary ammonium compounds (QACs) have been
widely used as disinfectants [38]. The attachment of
QAC to a textile substrate is believed to be predomi-
nantly by ionic interaction between the cationic QAC
and anionic fibre surface. Therefore, fibres such as acri-
lan and orlon which contain carboxylic or sulfonate
groups QAC can be directly exhausted under near boil-
ing conditions.
Similarly, the glutamyl and aspartyl residues in wool
provide carboxylic groups. Exhaustion of (QACs) onto
wool can render it antimicrobial with durability to 10
launderings [39-41]. In general durable antimicrobial
properties could be achieved on acrylic fabrics by
chemical incorporation with quaternary ammonium salts
such as cetylpyridinium. The study found that
cetylpyridinium concentration affected the adsorption
process and antimicrobial properties of acrylic fabrics.
The cetylpyridinium chloride could form ionic interac-
tions with anionic groups on acrylic fibres, which con-
tribute to durable antimicrobial functions [42].
Other synthetic fibres such as nylon 66 contain fewer
reactive sites and are quite resistant to chemical modifi-
cation procedures, including antimicrobial finishing. Sun
and his colleagues have dyed out the fabrics first with
acid dyes before application of QACs under alkaline
conditions. The ionic interaction between the dye mole-
cules and the QAC was strong to provide a semi durable
antimicrobial finishing [43,44].
2.3.4. Chi tosan
Chitosan was found to inhibit the growth of microbes
[45,46]. It is a naturally available biopolymer which is
now increasingly being used as a functional finish on
textile substrates to impart antimicrobial characteristics.
Henna a natural dye with proven bactericidal properties
was applied on wool fabrics along with chitosan to impart
antimicrobial characteristics [47]. Acrylic antimicrobial
fibres were prepared by coating chitosan on chemically
modified acrylic fibres [48]. The chitosan-modified
acrylic fibres showed excellent antimicrobial activity
against Staphylococcus aureus, compared with the un-
treated original acrylic fibres. The modified acrylic fibres
treated with chitosan showed high durability to launder-
ing probably due to strong ionic interaction between chi-
tosan and the modified. The direct antimicrobial finishing
of acrylic fibres may have applicability both in sport wear
and biomedical textiles field, by providing some addi-
tional functions of odor control [49]. Moreover water-
borne polyurethane is prepared and reacted with chitosan
as chain extender. The Prepared polyurethane chitosan
was studied as antimicrobial agent of acrylic fabrics [50].
2.3.5. Cycl odextrins
Cyclodextrins (CDs) play a significant role in the antim-
icrobial agents for Polyamide fabrics [51,52]. It was
found that the treatment with 30-50 g /l Cyclod extrin (CD)
or monochlorotriazinyl cyclodextrin (CD-T) has en-
hanced the antimicrobial activity; the highest antimicro-
bial activity was imparted upon treatment with CDT than
CD [53]. The addition of quaternary ammonium salts
increases the antimicrobial activity [54].
2.3.6. Plasm a
As some life styles have become m ore active, s ports wear,
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. OJOPM
active wear, and casual wear may become more easily
contaminated by perspiration leading to bacterial growth
and body odors [55]; especially synthetic fabrics. Plasma
treatment can take the place of the traditional chemical
processes. However, Plasma technologies still find diffi-
culties in being widely accepted by the textile industry
[56]. Plasma grafting is grafting of molecules on the ma-
terial surface after Plasma activation [57].
The properties of polyester fabrics grafted with chito-
san oligomers/polymers after being activated by atmos-
pheric pressure plasmas were evaluated. The antibacte-
rial effect was most evident when the surface of fabrics
was activated by atmospheric pressure plasma for 60 to
120 seconds and grafted with chi tosan oligom ers. [5 8] .
2.4. Hydrophilicty, Soil-Resistance,
Water-Repellency Oil-repellency
There properties could be imparted to wool and other
fibres through:
(1) Chemical, (2) Enzymes, (3) Cyclodextrins, (4) Ca-
sein, (5) Plasma treatments as cited below.
2.4.1. Che mi c al Treatments
It is well known that surface characteristic of fibres play
an important role in the functional and aesthetic properties
of their fabrics, and many surface modifications by
chemical treatments are ab le to improve textile pro perties.
Exposure of reactive chemical functional groups through
controlled surface lipid removal provides a means for co-
valent attachment of novel molecular entities to the wool
fibre surface.
The surface modification of wool by means of aque-
ous hydroxylamine treatment was investigated [59].
2.4.2. Enzymes
Uses of enzymes available for application in textile wet
Continues to increase each year. Clearly the use of
various enzymes to carry out surface hydrolysis of poly-
ester fibres to increase fibre hydrophilicity has been re-
ported. The use of nitrile hydrates enzyme to modify the
surface of acrylic fibres converting the surface nitrile
groups into amide groups, thereby increasing the hydro-
philicity and the antistatic properties of the fibres [60-
2.4.3. Cyclodextrins
On treating textile materials with cyclodextrin-containing
finishes, the physically fixed cyclodextrins allow the
easy removal of sweat or sweat degradation products
from the textile by preventing their penetration into the
fibre interior [65].
Wool and synthetic fabrics (polyester) were treated
with deodorizing agents formulated with cyclodextrin to
attain wash resistant and odor-absorbing properties.A
number of examples are given for permanent fixation of
various cyclodextrin derivatives via functional groups
onto fibre surfaces, including hydrophobically substituted
derivatives on synthetic fibres and cationically and
anionically modified derivatives on polyamide fabric. The
cyclodextrin derivatives contained functional groups such
as dihydroxypropyl, hydroxyhexyl, alkoxyhydroxypropyl,
phenoxyhydroxypropyl, carboxymethyl, hydroxytrimet-
hylammonium chlori de, and chlorot riazi nyl [66].
2.4.4. Casein
Acrylic fibre, due to its relatively cheap price and many
superior characteristics such as soft, wool-like hand,
machine washable, dayable and excellent colour reten-
tion, is used in the textile industry. But acrylic fibre also
exhibits some obvious disadvantages, which greatly lim-
its its further applications [68]. A novel chemical modi-
fication method of acrylic fibre was employed by graft-
ing of casein—a natural polymer-onto the surface of
acrylic fibre. The results showed that casein had been
grafted onto the acrylic fibre to improve the surface of
acrylic fibre. Moisture absorption, water retention and
specific electric resistance were found to be improved as
compared with the untreated fibre [67].
2.4.5. Plasm a
Plasma pretreatments are environmentally benign and
energy efficient processes for modifying the surface
chemistry of materials [68-69]. And also they can be
applied to all kinds of fibres, yarns or fabrics (such as
wool, polyacrylic, polyamide, and polyester,) to give
these materials an ex tremely wide range of fun ctionalities
(anti-felting, antistatic, flame retardancy and ol-
eophobicity) [70]. Wool is partially-ionized in gas nor-
mally generated by an electrical discharge at near ambient
Plasma, often considered as the fourth state of matter,
is composed of an ionized gas containing a mixture of
ions, electron, neutral and excited molecule, and photons.
The main attraction of plasma in industrial processing is
in the avoidance of chemical effluents, beside rapid reac-
tion times and high cleaning efficiency. Many surface
properties of synthetic fibers can be successfully altered
using plasma technology. These surface properties in-
clude wet ability, dye ability and electrical conductivity
In addition, the harsher handle imparted by plasma
modification is improved with silicone treatment. The
results show that the plasma pretreatment modifies the
opyright © 2011 SciRes. OJOPM
cuticle surface of the wool fibres and increases the reac-
tivity of the wool fabric toward silicone polymers [72].
Glow-discharge plasma treatments can be used for ac-
tivation, grafting, deposition or etching wool fabric sam-
ples which have been treated with a trichloroethylene
solution of zonyl fluoro monomer in argon plasma to
obtain high levels of water-and oil-repellency [73].
Moreover fabrics were treated in low temperature
plasma to increase soil resistance.
Polyacrylonitrile fabrics were directly treated in
acrylic acid, water, and argon plasma. Dye ability and
soil resistance of polyacrylonitrile fabrics were signifi-
cantly improved by these methods and more hydrophilic
surfaces were created [74].
It was reported that nylon fabrics were treated with
different plasma gases exhibit a slight decrease in the air
permeability probably due to plasma action whereby
increasing the fabric thickness and a change in the fabric
surface morphology accrued. The change in the thermal
properties of the treated polyamide fabrics can be attrib-
uted to the amount of air trapped between the yarns [75].
Polyamide fabrics have characteristics in terms of wa-
ter-repellency, smoother surface and wet ability when
they were treated with tetra fluoronerthane low tempera-
ture plasma [72] and treated with a low-tempe-
rature oxygen plasma respectively [73]. Polyester fabrics
have also been treated with tetra fluoronerthan e low tem-
perature plasma to modify the water-repellency [76]. The
wet ability of polyester fabric was improved using a vac-
uum ultraviolet excimer lamp [77].
Polyester fibres are usually dyed at a high pressure and
high temperature. Plasma treatments modify the fibres
surfaces to improve dyeing characteristics. Treatment led
to increase acid dye ability and decrease dye ability with
disperse dyes. Polyester fibres treated in a glow dis-
charge with acrylic acid can be dyed to deep colours with
basic dyes.
Furthermore the surface modification of polyester fab-
ric with metal salt before plasma treatment plays a vital
role in improving light fastness [78]. UV-laser pretreat-
ment can be used to induce surface modification of
polyester and polyamide fabrics for high performance
2.5. Flame Retardancy
All textile fibers consist of long chains of polymeric ma-
terials and the burning behavior of the fibers is deter-
mined largely by the chemical properties of these mate-
rials [80]. Natural fibres are used in interior parts of
buses or cars or as seat fabrics, for their comfort and dye
ability properties but they are easily fla mmable.
Wool is the most resistant to burning. It is difficult to
ignite; any flame spread slowly and is easily extinguished.
The residue is a low-temperature, frigate, non-sticking ash
(unlink the acrylic, polyami de, and polyester fibers) [81] .
Acrylic fibers are used mainly in the decorating and
home textile sectors in addition to the clothing sector,
especiallly for knitted goods. These fields of application
are becoming increasingly important in terms of flame-
proofing re gulations.
The developments in flame retardation of acrylic fi-
bers were produced by various methods, for example,
incorporation of co monomers like vinyl chloride or vi-
nylidene chloride through copolymerization, using cer-
tain modifiers in the spinning dope or in the spinning
bath, and surface modification, including finishing.
Treatment of acrylic fibers with hydroxyl amine hydro-
chloride, hydrazine hydrate, or dibutyl tin ethyl maleate
produces flame-retardant acrylics fabrics [82,83].
Bicomponent fibres have found considerable applica-
tion in woven carpets because their increased bulk and
cover offer advantages over traditionally used fibres.
Improved flame-resistant fibres incorporating halogen
compounds have been developed to meet flammability
requirements for carpets [84].
2.6. Self-Cleaning, Anti-Odor, Oil-Repellency,
Water-Repellency and Antimicrobial Nano
Technology Application
2.6.1. Nanop articles
Recent developments of nanotechnology directed to ap-
plications in textile areas including fibres are considered.
The first commercial application of nano finishes is
found in textiles in the form of nanoparticles through
finishing processes. Nanotechnology can provide high
durability for fabrics, because nanoparticles have a large
surface area-to-volume ratio and high surface energy,
thus presenting better affinity for fabrics and leading to
an increase in durability of the fu nction.
The present status of nanotechnology used in textiles
to improve different functional properties of textiles, such
as high-tech fibres, self-cleaning, anti-odor, oil-repellency ,
water-repellency, soil resistance, wrinkle resistance,
anti-static and UV-protection, flame retardant, improve-
ment of dye ability, antimicrobial and so on. Some of
these applications of nanoparticles to textiles are consid-
ered [85].
As the particle size decreases the number of molecules
in the surface relative to the bulk increases, giving new
and unexpected properties. This has been illustrated
schematically in the fo llowing Figure 2 [94].
Major research and development successes in techni-
cal applications for wool in the past five years have
opened up new and exciting opportunities for this old,
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. OJOPM
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. OJOPM
Figure 2. Schematic Representation of particle size and
surface at nano-scale.
familiar fibre. Nanotechnology is the science of self-re-
gulating materials and processes that are controlled at the
molecular level.
It has improved the physical nature of the wool fibre
surface to introduce particular functionalities such as
static control, water-repellency, etc.
Several methods can apply coating onto fabrics, in-
cluding spraying, transfer printing, washing, rinsing and
padding. Padding is the most commonly used The
nano-particles are attached to the fabrics with the use of
a padder adjusted to suitable pressure and speed, fol-
lowed by drying and curing [86,87].
2.6.2. Polymer An oc omposites
In this review, we have compiled the current research in
polymer nano composite-based nano finishes for multi-
functional textiles as shown in the next Figure 3 [94].
A simple method of obtaining a super hydrophobic
surface for wool textile finishing has been reported. Th is
method involves devising a comb like polymer compris-
ing acryl ate and organic siloxane.
This combination can exh ibit some unique characteris-
tics like an increase of the cohesiveness and film
form-favoring properties. Also, the long Si-O-Si chain
with low surface energy can be utilized to enhance the
water-repellency [88].
2.6.3. Ag-L oading Nano SiO2
In wool fibre, the free carboxyl groups of aspartyl and
glutamyl residues are considered the most likely binding
sites for metal ions .In this treatment, silver nanoparticles
are applied to wool using typical fabric and garment dye
systems. The original properties of the wool, including
handle and dye ability, remain unchanged after the
treatment [89,90].
Recently the wool fibre with Ag-Loading SiO2 nano-
antibacterial agent was prepared by the method of photo
grafting. Under ultraviolet irradiation the structure of
wool fiber was changed, a lot of active groups were
formed and grafting with Ag-Loading SiO2 was realized.
And antibacterial layer was formed on the surface of
wool fibre [91].
Nano-Tex has developed two superior water and
oil-repellent products based on custom designed fluoro-
carbon-containing polymers applied to all major apparel
fabrics, including wool, polyester and naylon [92].
Chitosan, polymer is antibacterial, non-toxic, biode-
gradable and biocompatible. Research work has been done
on the preparation of chitosan/silver nanocomposites in
solid forms, such as fibres, powders and films. An emul-
sion of chitosan-silver oxide nanoparticles can be easily
applied onto textile fabrics using conventional pad-dry-
cure process. The finish was found to be durable and wash
fast as it remained effective after 20 washings [93].
In order to achieve desired level of antibacterial effi-
ciency of polyamide fabrics, the loading of the Ag
nanoparticles (NPs) after dyeing is recommended.
In recent years methods and techniques of producing
antimicrobial acrylic fibres was studied using nano-anti-
microbial materials. The modified fibres are useful for
clothing, beddings and inte rior m aterial s.
Anti-bacterial nanosized silver turned out to be an ex-
cellent antibacterial agent and to contro l the development
of odor from perspiration for polyester fibres, which are
the most widely used in textile industry such as surgical
mask, diaper filter, hygienic band and sportswear [94-
2.6.4. Titanium Dioxide Nanoparticles
The application of nano-particles to textile materials has
been the object of several studies aimed at producing
finished fabrics with different performances. For exam-
ple nano-sized silver (nano-Ag), Zinc oxide (ZnO) and
titanium dioxide (TiO2) nano particles has been used for
imparting antibacterial properties and UV-blocking pro-
perties. ZnO and titanium dioxide (TiO2) are nontoxic
and chemically stable under exposure to both high tem-
peratures and UV.
TiO2 is one of the most popular and promising materi-
als in photo catalytic application due to its strong oxi-
dizing power. TiO2 is commercially available and easy to
prepare in the laboratory. Nano-sized silver, titanium
dioxide and zinc oxide are used for imparting self-clean-
ing and antibacterial properties [99].
2.6.5. Sma rt Silver
Nano-Tex has developed two superior water and oil-re-
pellent products based on custom designed fluorocar-
bon-containing polymers as a water and oil repellent
treatment that can be applied to all major apparel fabrics,
including wool, polyester, nylon, rayon and blends.
It has announced the availability of smart silver perma-
nent anti-odor/antimi crobial for 100% w ool . Thi s new
O. G. ALLAM 15
Figure 3. Some possibilities of textile functionalization using polymer nanocomposites.
product joins th e current line of smart silver fo r polyester,
nylon, polypropylen e, cotton and rayon. Smart Silver the
smarter anti-odor and antimicrobial anti-odor perform-
ance to fabrics without any compromises in fabric qual-
Smart silver is applied to wool using typical fabric and
garment dye systems. Smart silver imparts anti-odor/
antimicrobial capabilities to wool through modifications
engineered at the molecular level.
Smart silver is permanent, safe, and fully compatible
with existing manufacturing processes for fibre and fab-
rics. Smart silver-enhanced fibers can be used to create
odor-resistant undergarments, hats, gloves, socks,
T-shirts, sweaters, carpets and more [100-102].
2.6.6. Nanoem ul si ons
Sandoperm SE1 oil liq., produces nanoemulsions which
impart an inner softness. Applicable to polyamide and
polyester the hydroplilicity impart is classed as perma-
nent to washing. When applied on synthetic fabrics a
so-called “silky-touch” can be obtained [64].
3. Conclusions
It has been possible within this review to discuss some of
the functional characteristics of wool and synthetic fibres
(acrylic, polyamide and polyester) brought about by dif-
ferent methods. The latter are exemplified under.
Wool was treated with glycerol polyglycidylether (GPE)
in concentrated salt solutions. In addition, the use of so-
dium methoxide or sodium hydroxide in a 2-propanol me-
dium to over come shrinkage of wool. DCCA (Di-
chlorodicyanuric acid) treatments improve shrinkage and
pilling. Finally chemical treatment followed by enzyme is
better especially i n industry.
Enzymes are biocatalysts. It can be used, to overcome
disadvantages properties such as shrinkage, pilling, hy-
drophilic, etc. for wool and synthetic fibers. Sericin is a
biopolymer which can be used for effecting ant felting
properties of wool. Moreover casein, a natural polymer
was carried and to improve the surface of acrylic fabrics.
The application of cyclodextrins (CDs) on wool, acrylic,
polyamide and polyester led to reduce shrinkage, felting
and pilling. Meanwhile this application led to antimicro-
bial, hydrophilic, soil-resistant, etc. Their use will in-
crease because they are non-toxic and biodegrable,
thereby offering “green” solutions to enhance these im-
portant functionalities for textile.
Plasma technology, as a very active tool applied to
wool to modify the surface substrate. In the long term the
increasing importance of environmental issues will fa-
vour the us e of this technology
Nanotechnology in the textile is mainly being tried
into areas of fibre formation and processing of fabric. In
processing area it helps in improving properties like
wrinkle-resistance, soil and water repellency, antistatic,
antibacterial and UV protection. Nano finishes lead to
antibacterial and UV blocking properties given by silver
(Ag), titanium dioxide (liO2) and zinc oxide (ZnO) nano
particles are usually used.
4. Future Outlook
Improvement of functional characteristics of textile has
opyright © 2011 SciRes. OJOPM
been remained important to the textile industry. Eco-
nomic forces, market demands, and environmental con-
cerns will shape the direction that chemical development
for functional characteristics will take. Global competi-
tions are requiring textile chemicals at lower cost, by
reducing the amount of water to be shipped. Often, the
use of a textile chemical inv olves generating undesirable
side effects. Products that require less energy and water
perform these functional properties will be preferred
such as plasma. Textile industries see a promising future
for plasma technology, with the environmental and en-
ergy conservation benefits, in developing high-perfor-
mance materials for the world market. Cyclodextrins are
non-toxic and biodegradable, there by offering “green”
solutions to enhance the properties and providing new
functionalities to textile products. Biopolymer such as
sericin, etc. is preferred to be used in order to improve
functional properties due to their ch eaper price th an o ther
chemicals and environmentally safe. In the future
nanotechnology will overcome the limitations of apply-
ing conventional methods to impart certain properties to
textile materials. The improvements on the application
areas of nanotechnology in textile industry such as
anti-bacterial textiles, antistatic textile, flame-retardant
textiles, etc. will be increasing.
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