A (nano)jacket for riding your bicycle

A (nano)jacket for riding your bicycle

Summary: If you want to try a luminescent jacket to improve your safety when you ride your bicycle at night, you'll have to be next week in Melbourne, Australia. This prototype jacket, embedded with nano polymers, has been designed by a student who thinks about a future without petrol where people ride bicycles.

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TOPICS: Emerging Tech
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If you want to try a luminescent jacket to improve your safety when you ride your bicycle at night, you'll have to be next week in Melbourne, Australia. This prototype jacket, embedded with nano polymers, will be on display at the Melbourne Design Festival's Fabric of the Future exhibit, as reports The Age in a short article, "Nano-gear set to ride into the future." This prototype has been designed by a student who thinks about a future without petrol where people ride bicycles.

The 23 students who will show their works next week were helped by Nanotechnology Victoria Ltd (or Nanovic), a venture between three major Victorian universities, Monash University, Swinburne University of Technology, RMIT University, and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO).

Here is an excerpt from the article of The Age about this "nanojacket."

RMIT University textile student Jaqui Valdman developed a concept to use luminescent nano polymers and integrate them into safety gear for cyclists. "I cycle and I just find that the safety gear around at the moment is pretty naff and a lot of women don't wear it because it's pretty ugly, so I tried to think of an idea where you could have something really cool but be safe at the same time," Ms Valdman said.

You can see below a bicycle rider wearing this Commuter Jacket (Credit: Nanovic). The picture is obviously quite dark, so I've asked Nanovic if it had other pictures. But so far, the company declined to comment.

The Nanovic Commuter jacket

In The Light Fantastic, Nanovic brings some more details about the event.

The exhibition features conceptual designs by final year students on the bringing together of nanotechnology and textiles. There is no limit to the imagination, and the designs will cover a large number of possible future applications ranging from military to fashion to lifestyle and entertainment, as well as health and wellbeing.

For your viewing pleasure, don't miss Nanovic's art gallery, which features some works of Mark Seggie of Resin Design in Melbourne.

Below is a small version of a beautiful illustration that Mark Seggie realized in 2005 about quantum dot technology (Credit: Mark Seggie, for Nanovic).

Quantum dot technology at Nanovic

Here is a direct link to other works by the artist (PDF format, 6 pages, 489 KB). The above illustration comes from this document.

But let's look in more details about how nanotechnology can bring innovation to the textiles industry. Nanovic thinks that "the textiles industry has been one of the early adopters of nanotechnology products and processes" and has several projects under way. Here is a short selection.

  • New blended fabrics for specific applications (eg. sportswear, mountainwear, military applications) including the incorporation of Carbon Nanotubes (CNTs) into fabrics
  • Development of specific aesthetic properties (eg. glow in the dark, colour change with angle of light, colour change artwork with applied electric field).
  • Production of synthetic fibres (eg. polyester) with properties of natural fibres (eg. wool) by surface coating

But the company doesn't think that nanotechnology will revolutionize the textiles industry in the short term. "Nanotechnology is more likely to be used to produce new materials, or enhance the properties of existing materials, than to reduce the production cost or improve quality."

Sources: Dewi Cooke, The Age, Australia, July 7, 2006; and Nanovic web site

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Topic: Emerging Tech

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