SUMMARY: How are anti-smell hijabs made? How are smart fabrics created? Nanotechnology is helping to improve Muslim women’s clothing in Malaysia by providing comfort, and hygiene through clever innovations. In this article, you’ll learn how nanotechnology is empowering Muslim women to express their faith and identity in a modern, fashionable way.
As we all know, technology has grown and developed significantly in recent years.
The advancement of technology results in numerous benefits and enhancements in terms of functionality and the advantages of new product designs. Clothes are one of the most intriguing and well-known examples of merchandise among Malaysian Muslim women nowadays.
Women are known for their desire to purchase various types of clothing that are diversified, comfortable, and make it easier for them to live their busy lives, particularly working mothers. As a result, anti-smell hijabs, anti-fade shirts, anti-stain hijabs, and various anti-wrinkle fabrics are growing popular among women to facilitate their everyday activities and save time.
But did you know that to make clothes or products with the sophisticated features stated, a rigorous process involving sturdy technology and advanced materials is required?
As an Applied Physics student with a specialisation in Advanced Materials, I’d like to share some insights about the remarkable use of advanced materials and technology in today’s world, especially in the textile industry. The aim is to enhance our understanding and appreciation of these products, which have become an integral part of our daily lives.
Nanotechnology refers to the fields of science and engineering in which phenomena occur at nanometre scales.
This process involves developing, manufacturing, and deploying structures, devices, and systems by manipulating atoms and molecules at the nanoscale. These materials are known as nanomaterials.
The nano-prefix denotes that the dimensions of these structural entities are on the order of a nanometre (10−9m), which means the materials are too small to be seen with our naked eyes or even with conventional lab microscopes. However, it should be noted that nanotechnology is not only employed in the textile industry; it is a technology that is extensively used in a variety of industries.
Engineered nanomaterials (ENMs) are materials that have been engineered to such a small size. Products such as degreasers and stain removers, environmental sensors, air purifiers and filters, antibacterial cleansers, specialised paints such as self-cleaning home paints that resist dirt and stains, and others are examples of nanotechnology applications.
Some essential factors underline the importance of nanotechnology in textile applications. It provides a substantially larger surface area where it can be used to improve qualities such as moisture absorption, which is particularly relevant in sportswear or medical textiles.
In addition, nanotechnology can manipulate light in unique ways, leading to textiles with enhanced optical properties for creating fabrics with improved colour, UV protection, or even for applications like reflective clothing.
Moreover, nanotechnology is useful in manipulating thermal properties, making it possible to create textiles with enhanced insulation or cooling capabilities that are suitable for everyday clothing and garments.
Furthermore, nanocoating on textiles can provide a variety of functionalities such as water repellency, stain resistance, and antimicrobial properties to reduce the growth of bacteria and fungi.
This has resulted in the production of today’s popular anti-smell hijabs, thereby maintaining fabric hygiene. These coatings at the nanoscale form thin layers that do not compromise the breathability or flexibility of the fabric.
Thus, nanotechnology plays an important role in the development of smart and innovative textiles that benefit both customers and the textile industry.
As a result, various advantages and benefits of applying nanotechnology to the textile industry have been mentioned.
As is commonly known, Malaysia has hot, muggy, and erratic weather, which poses a challenge that needs to be addressed and taken into account when making wardrobe purchases. Novel concepts are also emerging in the textile and fashion industries due to issues like a sweaty body, food odours seeping into clothes, removing stains from children’s clothing, and wrinkled shirts.
Owing to the hectic lifestyles of consumers who desire low-maintenance textile items, a trend in hygiene textiles has emerged. Fabrics with antimicrobial treatments are designed to protect customers from bacteria that cause illness or bad odours.
Microorganism development affects the material’s functional and aesthetic qualities, in addition to causing hygiene problems. A significant need for antimicrobial finishes is to meet market demands in preventing unpleasant odours on intimate apparel, socks, and sportswear.
Most importantly, it is required in places such as hospitals, schools, hotels, and other crowded public spaces where the demand for disease prevention is growing.
Now, let’s examine the application of nanotechnology in the manufacturing of antimicrobial fabrics.
The first step towards achieving the intended results is finding the right materials to use in this process. For antibacterial action, fabrics are treated with nanostructured materials containing inorganic active agents, such as zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, gold, and silver. Among the many organic and inorganic nanostructures, silver nanoparticles are the most commonly used substance in the market as an antibacterial agent for a variety of reasons.
Compared to certain organic antibacterial agents, nano-silver, also known as silver nanoparticles (AgNPs), is a safer antimicrobial agent. This substance is effective in treating a variety of microbes, including viruses, bacteria, and fungi.
In addition, compared to bulk silver, silver nanoparticles exhibit higher ion release from a larger surface area per unit mass, making them particularly active in very small concentrations. AgNPs emit silver ions that may interact with microbial enzymes to disrupt DNA replication and cell division, ultimately resulting in the death of microbial cells.
Additionally, the formation of reactive oxygen species and free radicals, which have the potential to harm microorganisms’ cell membranes, has been linked to the antimicrobial action of silver nanoparticles.
The process of creating silver nanoparticles is known as silver nanoparticle synthesis. The primary goal of this technique is to create these extremely small particles of silver, known as nanoparticles, which are far smaller than a speck of dust. The reduction in particle size alters the properties of the material, allowing it to penetrate deeper and adhere more securely to the fabric, thereby enhancing its effectiveness. Nanoparticles are created through a variety of physical, chemical, and biological processes.
Chemical reduction is a well-known process for producing silver nanoparticles. This procedure creates very small silver particles in the nanoscale range by mixing silver ions, which are small charged particles, with reducing agents, which are substances that cause ions to gain electrons.
The first stage of this reduction process is the selection of the silver precursor. In this stage, a specific chemical compound containing silver is selected to act as the starting point for the synthesis. Typically, substances containing silver ions (Ag+) or salts are used as silver precursors.
The next stage involves the preparation of the reducing agent. The silver ions in the precursor receive electrons donated by this agent. This process leads to the reduction of silver ions into silver nanoparticles.
How can the synthesised silver nanoparticles be applied to certain fabrics?
Common methods for this application include dip coating, spray coating, exhaustion, or pad-dry-cure procedures. The method of application used is determined by the unique requirements of the fabric and the desired attributes of the finished product.
The pad-dry-cure process is the most commonly used method for creating antibacterial characteristics in fabrics.
To begin, the silver nanoparticles are dispersed as a coating solution in a colloidal solution bath. Following that, the treated fabric is immersed or “padded” in a colloidal solution bath containing silver nanoparticles.
The fabric is then run through rollers or other mechanisms to squeeze out excess solution up to 100% wet pick using a laboratory pad at steady pressure, ensuring that the silver nanoparticle solution is absorbed uniformly.
The wet-coated fabric is then dried to eliminate the solvent or carrier liquid, leaving the silver nanoparticles adhering to the fabric. The dry fabric is then exposed to a curing process in the next phase.
The curing process involves applying heat or another treatment to further attach the silver nanoparticles to the fabric and increase the coating’s durability. Finally, the treated fabric is subjected to quality control techniques to ensure that the silver nanoparticles are evenly distributed and the desired properties, such as antimicrobial efficacy, are achieved.
The sophistication of today’s technology brings convenience to the community, particularly for working mothers who juggle various tasks.
This service is especially beneficial for Muslim women who wear hijabs. Innovative concepts in the textile industry, such as antimicrobial and anti-odour features on fabric, can enhance comfort and cleanliness, particularly for women wearing hijabs.
This is because wearing a headscarf and Sharia-compliant apparel can be challenging in hot weather conditions due to increased sweat production. Furthermore, this technology can be highlighted in the creation of women’s telekung. The telekung produced using this technique will enhance the solemnity of prayer due to the fabric’s anti-odour and antibacterial properties.
According to the Prophet SAW’s hadith (Sahih Muslim 223):
“The Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said: Cleanliness is half of faith”
Therefore, as Muslims, it is strongly recommended that we maintain cleanliness as it is part of our faith and scientifically, cleanliness helps to prevent diseases or harm. In conclusion, the introduction of nanotechnology has proven to deliver a variety of benefits to society across various sectors and industries.
Perera, S., Bhushan, B., Bandara, R., Rajapakse, G., Rajapakse, S., & Bandara, C. (2013).
Morphological, antimicrobial, durability, and physical properties of untreated and treated textiles using silver-nanoparticles. Colloids and Surfaces A: Physicochemical and Engineering Aspects, 436, 975–989. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.colsurfa.2013.08.038
Durán, N., Marcato, P. D., De Souza, G. I. H., Alves, O. L., & Esposito, E. (2007). Antibacterial Effect of Silver Nanoparticles Produced by Fungal Process on Textile Fabrics and Their Effluent Treatment. Journal of Biomedical Nanotechnology, 3(2), 203–208. https://doi.org/10.1166/jbn.2007.022
Cover image by Fikri Mz / Pexels.