Fiber Science Lab, Design Student Develop Clothes to Trap Poisonous Gas

Article excerpt

A new fabric that can selectively trap noxious gases and odors has been fashioned by Jennifer Keane '11, a fiber science and apparel design (FSAD) major, into a line of hooded shirts and masks inspired by the military.

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The garments use metal organic framework molecules (MOFs) and cellulose fibers that were assembled in assistant fiber science professor Juan Hinestroza's lab to create the special cloth. MOFs, which are clustered crystalline compounds, can be manipulated at the nanolevel to have cages that are the exact same size as the gas they are trying to capture.

Keane worked with Hinestroza and FSAD postdoctoral associate Marcia Da Silva Pinto to create the gas-absorbing hoods and masks. Some of the basic science behind this project was funded by the U.S. Department of Defense.

"The work to meet the initial goal of attaching the MOFs to fibers was sponsored by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency. We wanted to harness the power of these molecules to absorb gases and incorporate these MOFs into fibers, which allows us to make very efficient filtration systems," Hinestroza said.

Da Silva Pinto first created MOF fabrics in Hinestroza's lab, working in collaboration with chemists from Professor Omar Yaghi's group at the University of California-Los Angeles. Yaghi is one of the pioneers and leaders of.MOF chemistry, Hinestroza said.

At first the process did not work smoothly. "These crystalline molecules are like a powder that cannot easily become part of cloth," Da Silva Pinto noted. …