1. Final Activity Report Summary - ADVANBIOTEX (Advanced Functionality of Textiles by Biopolymer Surface Modification)
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Abstract: Within the frame of ADVANBIOTEX project, an innovative strategy for functional finishing has been developed with objective to obtain knowledge-based textile materials with new functionalities and environmental responsiveness for advanced applications. This strategy involves incorporation of thin polymer layers, i.e. application of responsive surface modifying systems (SMS) based on the stimuli-responsive polymers. The efficient and easily applicable surface modifying systems have been created by using micro-sized hydrogels i.e. microgels. Various microgels have been prepared, mainly by combining a thermo-responsive synthetic polymer (poly-NiPAAm) with a natural based polymeric component (chitosan) resulting in dual (pH and temperature) responsive surface modifying systems. Nevertheless, apart from the basic challenge of producing an efficient microgel-based surface modifying system, the other challenges in achieving the goal of effective functional finishing of textile material involved efficient functionalisation (i.e. surface modification) of the textile material for the incorporation of surface modifying system into textile material surface structure. In practice, it involved development of an incorporation procedure which could be able to integrate the surface modifying system into textile substrate with sufficient durability while still retaining the effectiveness (i.e. stimuli-responsiveness) of the microgel.
Within the ADVANBIOTEX project it has been confirmed that efficient incorporation of the stimuli-responsive surface modifying system to textile material (cotton, polyamide or polyester) can be done from aqueous microgel dispersion by simple pad-dry or pad-dry-cure procedure, which is of special interest for the application in industrial conditions. Two different approaches have been applied to achieve this goal. One approach was based on textile material activation before the application of the surface modifying system, where both chemical and physical (e.g. low-temperature plasma treatment) activation methods have been used. Another approach, which did not include previous activation of textile material, was based on the use of the additional film-forming agent to produce three-dimensionally linked network between the surface modifying system and the substrate. Hence, it has been confirmed that the microgel could be bound to the surface of textile fabric directly (without the need for a separate and/or additional crosslinker) or with a crosslinking agent. By knowing that the moisture management and liquid management properties are the most important criteria to evaluate textile fabric comfort ability, these property of the newly developed materials have been thoroughly studied.
As the main goal of ADVANBIOTEX project was the development of materials with environmental responsiveness capability, it has been confirmed that the moisture permeability as specific attribute of the newly developed material is not present continuously (i.e. passively), but it could be activated "on demand" by sensing the stimuli in immediate surrounding environment and reacting to the human/environmental conditions. This achievement could be considered as a very important step in development of materials for so called "responsive performance apparel".
In general, the results obtained within the frame of ADVANBIOTEX project prove the concept for functional finishing of textiles with responsive microgel. Moreover, they provide a guideline for the application of hydrogel in the form of micro-particulate systems (i.e. microgels) as a surface modifying system, with the aim to upgrade the regular textile material quality by providing highly attractive feature of environmental responsiveness.