It is far too early to herald the arrival of a nanotechnological revolution on the high street, cautions leading German nanotechnologist and textiles expert, Eckhard Schollmeyer.
Bea Perks/Munich, Germany
It is far too early to herald the arrival of a nanotechnological revolution on the high street, cautions leading German nanotechnologist and textiles expert, Eckhard Schollmeyer. ’If we go this way, we destroy our technology’s future,’ he said.
Schollmeyer, managing director of Deutsches Textilforschungszentrum Nord-West, Krefeld, was speaking at the Nanotrends business congress in Munich, Germany.
Schollmeyer presented data at the meeting on UV-resistant, abrasion-resistant, and static-resistant textiles. He was joined by UK chemist Stephen Coulson, technical director of Porton Plasma Innovations, who spoke about his work on a UK nuclear, biological and chemical warfare suit programme and how this has evolved into the creation of highly water- and oil-resistant garments. Miles Jordan, product design manager at Eleksen, UK, spoke about the company’s sensitive fabrics that respond to touch: wearers can press or stroke them to turn up the volume of an MP3 player, for example.
The popular appeal of these innovations - particularly Jordan’s touch-responsive garments, developed to fulfil the needs of the film industry which wanted fabric-coated creations to respond naturally to human touch without switches and jerky movements - is clear, but potentially dangerous, said Schollmeyer. Anyone looking in a shop for the latest nanotechnology-enabled trousers will be disappointed, he said. Confusion and disappointment could seriously damage the future of nanotechnology, he fears.
What this all means for the future of nanotechnology remains unclear, particularly since Schollmeyer questioned whether either Coulson’s or Jordan’s advances are truly nanotechnological. Even Coulson and Jordan admitted to holding questionable nanotech credentials.