There was a time—and it was not that long ago—when I had never even heard the word “nanotechnology.” I have since learned that nanotechnology is science, engineering and technology conducted at the nanoscale, which is about 1 to 100 nanometers. I didn’t know what a nanometer was, either (English major, you know), so it was more helpful for me to know that one nanometer is a billionth of a meter, or that there are 25,400,000 nanometers in an inch, the National Nanotechnology Institute (NNI) explains. Very, very small. That much I get.
What that means is that “structures, devices and systems” can be manipulated from the most basic level possible to create a material that can do … well, theoretically, just about anything you want. I may be overstating, but from my vantage point—one which estimates space in terms of feet or even miles, that’s how it looks.
In recent years, it seems to me that nanotechnology has been playing an increasingly important role in designing smart fabrics. As reported on www.sciencedirect.com, “nanomaterials have been employed to introduce in a sustainable manner, antimicrobial, ultraviolet resistant, electrically conductive, optical, hydrophobic and flame-retardant properties into textiles and garments.”
That article, “Applications of nanotechnology in smart textile industry: A critical review,” published in the May 2022 issue of the Journal of Advanced Research, discusses several key areas pertinent to the use of nanotech in textiles, including “wearable nanotechnology for energy storage, sensing, drug release, optics, electronics and photonics” advancements that “are being developed for wider use in defense, healthcare and on-body energy harnessing applications.”
This is where our feature, “Helping the body heal itself,” comes in. I don’t generally focus on one company, but there are times when it is warranted because of the nature of the innovative research that’s not just underway, but has been accomplished, even to the point of commercialization. But without the knowledge of nanotechnology that came before, the breakthrough technology discussed, Supreme Corporation’s Thermoregulating Therapeutic Smart Fabric would not have been possible. This is also noted in our feature.
Self-care products that can be useful for just about anyone may take time to penetrate a potential market that large—especially when the concept is so new and not easy to comprehend for someone not adept at scientific concepts (like me). Whether or not the company’s new product will prove to be game-changing remains to be seen. But I think there’s a strong possibility that it could have a profound impact on home healthcare, injury recovery, wellness and other uses that could benefit soldiers, workers in challenging outdoor environments, extreme athletes, and people with chronic or intermittent physical conditions or pain. I’d call that game changing.