Committee members of Advisory Committee on Textile and Clothing Industries visited Research Centre for Smart Wearable Technology on 3 July 2020. Prof. XM Tao introduced the research output of smart wearable technology and shared the educational experiences at the area of the wearable technolgy. The committee members showed strong interest in the new technology.
First batch of overseas visitors to Research Centre for Smart Wearable Technology (SmartWT Centre)
Three professors from School of Engineering, Ecole Polytechnique Federale De Lausanne (EPFL), Switzerland visited Prof. Xiaoming Tao, Director of Smart WT Center on 15 November 2018. They were Prof. Dr. Dario Floreano, Director of Laboratory of Intelligent Systems, Prof. Herbert Shea of Soft Transducers Laboratory, Dr. Olivier Kuttel of International Affair and Ms. Marian Gaultney. During the visit, Prof. XM Tao and the visitors exchanged information on their current research activities and discussed possibilities for future collaboration.
Discovery and Development of A New Anti-microbial Agent and Textiles
A multidisciplinary research team, led by Prof. Xiaoming Tao, has made a series of exciting discoveries that may change the current textiles used in hospitals, nursing homes and hotels as well as daily life. The team first discovered that a degradable polylactide/ poly(3-hydroxybutyrate-co-3-hydroxyvalerate) fiber has highly effective wide-spectrum antimicrobial and anti-mite properties without any addition of reactive chemicals. Another even more exciting discovery revealed that the PHB oligomer is highly effective against Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), one of the most intractable pathogenic bacteria in hospitals. As the oligomer is a degradable aliphatic polyester derived from renewable biomass, it completely discomposes as CO2 and water, thus possesses no threats to human and environments, unlike other antimicrobial agents such as Ag, Cu, ZnO etc., added in normal textile fibers.
The team comprises professors and researchers from Institute of Textiles and Clothing, and Department of Health Information Technology. They separated and extracted components through precipitation and column chromatography, and conducted tests to confirm the efficacy and mechanisms of the extracted components and synthesized oligomers. The chemical structure of the antimicrobial constituents was revealed, for the first time, as the polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB) oligomer with a few degrees of polymerization. In addition, the team synthesized pure PHB oligomer in the laboratory by ring-opening polymerization of β-butyrolactone. The results were published as a cover story of Macromolecular Bioscience in May 2019.
The research provided a direct guidance for a fiber producing company to successfully improve its mass manufacturing process of anti-microbial PHBV/PLA fibers in terms of the quality and consistence. Working with several companies, the team developed filament yarns, staple blend yarns, knitted and woven fabrics, socks, compression stockings, shoe uppers, and bandage. These products show the excellent antimicrobial properties and high textile quality in terms of mechanical properties, surface, comfort and coloration. The antimicrobial effects of the textile products were durable even after 99 washing cycles.
Encouraged by all the positive results, the team is continuing work with nursing homes, hotels and hospitals with the new functional textiles and clothing for travelers, patients, medical personnel and elderly in their battles fighting against microbial infection and mites.
The 5-year research has been supported by ITF-HKRITA and companies including TAL, Orient Forest, Esteem Surgical Clinic, Ninbo Tianan Biologic Materials, Zende Medical Group, Shenzhen Anpan Health Industry, and Guangzhou Fiber Product Testing and Research Institute.
Schematic illustration of antimicrobial mechanism of PHB oligomer