Victoria's Deakin University is undertaking a major textile research program that includes the areas of fibre science and metrology, textile technology and management, textile chemistry, environmental issues and clean technology, composite materials, and technical textiles.
An international collaboration between the RWTH Aachen University (Germany), CSIRO and Deakin University is focused on melt-spinning of piezo-active PVDF fibres. Dr Kevin Magniez, research fellow in composites from Deakin's Institute for Frontier Materials provided an update on this work at the 2013 TTNA conference.
The brittleness of piezo-ceramics (i.e. PZT) has hindered their implementation in textile for a while. To that end, the primary challenge in the design of these smart textiles is to find a suitable piezo-electric substrate material which can be easily meshed into a hybrid textile structure.
Undertaken on Deakins’s pilot-scale bio-component melt-blowing and melt-spinning facilities, the project focuses on the development of a flexible 2D textile based PVDF piezo-electric force sensors and ultimately demonstrated that a melt-pinning manufacturing can produce piezoelectric PVDF fibres. Dr Magniez explained that textile-based piezoelectric materials can harbor potential in various applications such as energy harvesting, sensing and actuation – in essence, the new class of “smart textiles”.
Dr Magniez said : “The work on PVDF fibers is very valuable for the scientific and industrial community since polymeric fibres can offer improved flexibility compared to their inorganic counterparts.""
Dr Jian Fang, a research fellow from Deakin, presented on the development of an electro-spinning system for nano-fibres. Electro-spinning is an efficient technique to produce continuous nanofibres. The process involves stretching a polymer solution or melt under a strong electrical field to form dry and fine filaments with diameters ranging from tens of nanometres to several micrometres. Dr Fang explained that the current uses for nano-fibres are mainly in biomedicine (wound dressing tissue scaffolds and drug delivery systems), filtration and energy storage. However, there are some diverse emerging applications such as artificial skin, solar cell electrodes and energy conversion. He confirmed that nanofibres have a huge market potential, however there was a gap between production and application. This is where needleless- and electro-spinning bring more value into the nanofibre market.
The researchers from Deakin's Institute for Frontier Materials (IFM) bring an array of international collaborations with leading fibre centres, including Advanced Fibre Science CoE (Shinshu University, Japan); College of Textiles, North Carolina State University (North Carolina USA); University of Dayton in surface coating (Ohio USA); Tufts University in silk biomaterials Institute of Textile & Clothing (Medford, Massachusetts USA); Hong Kong Polytechnic University (Hong Kong China).