High street fashions and products to clean them could soon use nanotechnology to deliver distinctive fragrances.

High street fashions and the products developed to clean them will soon use nanotechnology delivery systems to deliver distinctive fragrances.

Nanoparticle encapsulation drug delivery systems have inspired a number of companies to use the technology to release smells. Fragrance company Quest International is looking at organic nanoparticles as an alternative to the currently used zeolites. Quest’s top-secret formulation will allow fragrances to cling to fabric and not be washed away with unwanted oil and dirt. The company aims to create a washing powder that will impregnate fabrics with a smell that is released when the fabric is rubbed.

’Manufacturers need something that makes their product a bit different,’ Richard Birch from Quest told Chemistry World. Birch showcased Quest’s latest technology to a meeting of flavour and fragrance industrialists and nanoencapsulation academics, organised by the Institute of Nanotechnology. 

Nanoparticles have the advantage of being undetectable by the consumer, said Birch. ’Some of the other particles we’ve looked at might be scratchy on the skin. With nano you can’t feel it, and you certainly can’t see it.’

Encapsulation and release technology is also being used by Quest competitor International Flavours and Fragrances  (IFF) for branded perfumed clothes. In the increasingly brand-conscious fashion industry jeans and other clothes will have brand-specific smells. IFF’s Sensory Perception clothing will be launched with a number of major clothes manufacturers later this year. ’Big companies are going to have their own house smell,’ said Dermot O’Hare, nanotechnology expert and professor of chemistry at Oxford University, UK. 

O’Hare noted that the flavours industry often borrows technologies from the pharmaceuticals industry to deliver fragrances. Barbara Conway at Aston University, UK, uses polymer nanospheres to trap drug molecules and protect them until they reach the place where they are needed. The systems she and others in the industry use are more advanced than those in the flavours industry, she said, but much information can be applied from pharma to flavours.

Katharine Sanderson