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Fashion: Material innovations making big impacts



Fishbowl platforms, bottle opener buckles, calculator watches — all are examples of fashion merged with technology. But this year, a couple of creations demonstrated that useful fashion can go beyond the kitschy.

This past spring, two Cornell students from Africa engineered a stylish malaria suit that acts as a day repellant. According to the Science Daily, the material is effective “by binding repellant and fabric at the nanolevel using metal organic framework molecules — which are clustered crystalline compounds — the mesh fabric can be loaded with up to three times more insecticide than normal fibrous nets, which usually wear off after about six months.”

Frederick Ochanda, a Kenyan native and a postdoctoral associate in the fiber science apparel design program, synthesized the fabric while Matilda Ceesay, a Gambian native studying apparel design, designed the final [email protected]@names [email protected]@

Malaria affects populations worldwide, and based on a 2010 report by the World Health Organization cause about 650,000 deaths, the majority being African children.

Ochanda said in April 2012 to the Cornell Chronicle, that by applying fiber science and fashion sense to the problem, the two students are hoping to “inspire others to keep improving the technology.”

On a different front, talk increased this September about the University of Sheffield and London College of Design teaming up to create a fabric softener that has the potential to fight air pollution and pollution-related illnesses, like asthma, as you go about your day.

According to Discovery News, the softener contains titanium dioxide particles that “trap and convert nitrogen oxide pollutants in the air into harmless byproducts that can be easily washed away on laundry day.”

A September 2012 press release from the UK’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council stated that, “One person wearing clothes treated with CatClo would be able to remove around 5 grams of nitrogen oxides from the air in the course of an average day — roughly equivalent to the amount produced each day by the average family car.”

The product should be debuting on retail shelves in 2014, so we won’t be able to measure its real-world potential until then, but in the meantime, we can use our Casio watches to calculate what we predict the impact to be.


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