Knitting molecular fibers into fabric, British researchers set a record by creating the world's smoothest fabric

The textile industry has been with people since the dawn of consciousness. We already know how to braid fish nets, knit clothes to wear to avoid the cold, and over time, this life-sustaining activity goes up in the direction of social development. We range from fabrics as thin as a few millimeters from clothing made of plant-based fibers, to fabrics several micrometers thick like wool, cotton or synthetic polymers.

For the first time, a team of scientists at the University of Manchester has developed the technique of weaving molecules into two-dimensional layers. Through that, they have created a thin woven fabric with the number of threads per unit area of ​​40-60 million yarns.

For ease of comparison: the finest fabric of the Egyptians contained only about 1,500 threads/unit area, while according to industry standards, cloth reaching 150 threads/unit area was acceptable. and 180 will be used for good quality fabrics.

Picture 1 of Knitting molecular fibers into fabric, British researchers set a record by creating the world's smoothest fabric
Illustration of the world's thinnest fabric.

The art of knitting, layer upon layer, occurs frequently in nature, with the image of birds grafting branches into nests. As technology progressed, new materials and advanced weaving and knitting techniques appeared gradually. The team tried using a long polymer chain to knit in layers, to see if its strength and flexibility could be similar to that of a regular woven fabric.

Scientists use chemistry to knit tiny polymer fibers. Iron atoms and negatively charged ions work together to weave blocks of matter made of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitro, and sulfur atoms. The blocks of matter connect with each other, forming a single fabric that is only 4 nanometers long.

Professor David Leigh of the University of Manchester commented: 'Weaving molecular fibers in this way opens up new improved properties. Fabrics are twice as strong as the fibers that form them, and when torn, they separate like paper without lint like regular yarn. The sheet of matter also acts like a mesh, allowing small molecules to pass through while trapping larger molecules.

'This is the first example of a layered fabric woven from molecules. [Method] Molecular weaving opens new avenues for changing the properties of plastics and other materials,' he continued.