Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology for Textiles Apparel

Detailed overview of innovation with sample startups and prominent university research

What it is

Advanced materials and nanotechnology in the textile industry involve utilizing innovative materials, manipulating material properties at the nanoscale, and developing novel manufacturing processes to create textiles with enhanced functionalities and improved sustainability. These technologies offer a range of benefits, from water and stain resistance to self-cleaning and temperature regulation capabilities, all while minimizing environmental impact.

Impact on climate action

Advanced materials and nanotechnology revolutionize low-carbon textiles and fashion by enabling the development of sustainable fabrics with reduced environmental footprints. These innovations offer enhanced energy efficiency in production processes, decreased water consumption, and minimized waste generation. They pave the way for a greener fashion industry, accelerating climate action.


  • Nanomaterials: Nanomaterials, with dimensions at the nanoscale (one billionth of a meter), exhibit unique properties compared to their bulk counterparts, offering enhanced strength, conductivity, reactivity, and other functionalities.
  • Nanofinishing: Nanofinishing involves applying nano-sized coatings or particles to textiles to improve their properties, such as water repellency, stain resistance, wrinkle resistance, and UV protection.
  • Biomimicry and Nature-Inspired Design: Drawing inspiration from nature, scientists and engineers are developing bio-based and bio-inspired materials with unique properties, like lotus leaf-inspired water repellency or spider silk-inspired strength.
  • Smart Textiles: Integrating sensors, actuators, and other electronic components into textiles, creating “smart” fabrics that can monitor vital signs, regulate temperature, or even change color on demand.
  • Advanced Recycling Technologies: Utilizing nanotechnology to develop more efficient and effective textile recycling processes, enabling the recovery of high-quality fibers from complex textile blends and promoting circularity.

TRL : Varies widely depending on the specific technology and application, ranging from 4-9.

Prominent Innovation themes

  • Self-Cleaning Textiles: Developing textiles with self-cleaning properties using nanotechnology, reducing the need for frequent washing and minimizing water and energy consumption.
  • Water and Stain-Resistant Fabrics: Applying nano-coatings to fabrics to create durable water and stain repellency, extending the lifespan of garments and reducing the need for harsh chemical treatments.
  • Temperature-Regulating Textiles: Creating textiles that can actively regulate temperature using phase-change materials or other innovative technologies, enhancing wearer comfort and reducing the reliance on energy-intensive heating and cooling systems.
  • Antimicrobial and Anti-Odor Textiles: Developing textiles with antimicrobial and anti-odor properties using nanomaterials or bio-based treatments, improving hygiene and reducing the need for frequent washing.
  • Textiles with Enhanced Durability and Strength: Utilizing nanofibers and other advanced materials to create textiles with exceptional strength and durability, extending their lifespan and reducing the need for frequent replacements.

Other Innovation Subthemes

  • Nanoscale Material Manipulation
  • Advanced Coating Techniques
  • Nature-Inspired Textile Design
  • Integration of Smart Components
  • Nanotechnology in Recycling
  • Self-Cleaning Textile Development
  • Durable Water Repellent Fabrics
  • Stain-Resistant Textile Innovations
  • Temperature-Regulating Textile Technologies
  • Antimicrobial Fabric Solutions
  • Odor-Resistant Textile Development
  • Strength-Enhancing Nanofibers
  • Bio-Based Material Applications
  • Lotus Leaf-Inspired Textile Design
  • Spider Silk-Inspired Strength
  • Smart Fabric Sensor Integration
  • Energy-Efficient Temperature Control
  • High-Performance Nanomaterials

Sample Global Startups and Companies

  • Dropel Fabrics (USA):
    • Technology Focus: Dropel Fabrics specializes in creating innovative textiles using advanced materials and nanotechnology. Their focus is on developing fabrics with enhanced performance features such as water repellency, stain resistance, and odor control.
    • Uniqueness: Dropel Fabrics stands out for its use of nanotechnology to imbue ordinary fabrics with extraordinary properties, catering to consumers’ demand for durable, high-performance textiles.
    • End-User Segments: Their target segments include apparel manufacturers, outdoor gear companies, healthcare providers (for medical textiles), and hospitality industries (for stain-resistant linens).
  • Puradigm (USA):
    • Technology Focus: Puradigm specializes in air and surface purification systems utilizing advanced materials and nanotechnology. Their solutions aim to eliminate airborne and surface contaminants, including viruses, bacteria, mold, and odors.
    • Uniqueness: Puradigm’s technology sets itself apart by leveraging nanotechnology to create active purification systems that continuously neutralize pathogens and allergens in indoor environments, promoting healthier and safer spaces.
    • End-User Segments: Their target segments encompass various industries concerned with indoor air quality and cleanliness, such as healthcare facilities, commercial buildings, hospitality, schools, and residential spaces.
  • HeiQ (Switzerland):
    • Technology Focus: HeiQ specializes in textile innovations driven by advanced materials and nanotechnology. Their portfolio includes a range of textile treatments designed to enhance performance attributes like moisture management, odor control, and UV protection.
    • Uniqueness: HeiQ stands out for its comprehensive approach to textile innovation, combining nanotechnology with sustainable practices to create functional fabrics that meet the evolving needs of consumers and brands.
    • End-User Segments: Their target segments span across various industries, including apparel and footwear, home textiles, outdoor gear, and healthcare, where performance and sustainability are paramount considerations.

Sample Research At Top-Tier Universities

  • Cornell University (USA):
    • Technology Enhancements: Cornell researchers are leveraging nanotechnology to develop advanced materials for low-carbon textiles and fashion. They are exploring nanomaterials such as graphene, carbon nanotubes, and nano-cellulose to enhance the performance and sustainability of textile fibers and coatings.
    • Uniqueness of Research: Cornell’s approach involves a combination of materials science, nanotechnology, and textile engineering to create novel fabrics with unique properties, such as enhanced strength, conductivity, and biodegradability. They are also investigating scalable manufacturing processes to integrate nanomaterials into textile production.
    • End-use Applications: The research at Cornell has implications for various applications in the textile and fashion industries, including sportswear, outdoor gear, and smart textiles. For example, nano-enhanced fabrics can improve the durability and functionality of clothing while reducing environmental impact through lightweight designs and energy-efficient production processes.
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT):
    • Technology Enhancements: MIT researchers are pioneering the use of advanced materials and nanotechnology to develop low-carbon textiles and fashion products. They are exploring techniques such as nanostructuring, surface modification, and molecular self-assembly to create textiles with superior performance and sustainability.
    • Uniqueness of Research: MIT’s approach involves a multidisciplinary collaboration between materials scientists, fashion designers, and sustainability experts to address the complex challenges facing the textile industry. They are integrating principles of circular economy and biomimicry into the design and manufacturing of advanced materials for fashion applications.
    • End-use Applications: The research at MIT has implications for a wide range of end-use applications, including haute couture, athleisure wear, and functional textiles. By harnessing the power of nanotechnology, designers can create clothing that not only looks stylish but also performs better and has a lower environmental footprint.
  • University of Manchester (UK):
    • Technology Enhancements: Researchers at the University of Manchester are focusing on developing sustainable textile materials using advanced nanotechnology techniques. They are investigating the use of nanofibers, nano-coatings, and nano-scale additives to enhance the functionality and eco-friendliness of textiles.
    • Uniqueness of Research: The University of Manchester’s research distinguishes itself by its emphasis on scalability and commercial viability. They are collaborating with industry partners to translate laboratory-scale innovations into large-scale production processes that can be adopted by the textile industry.
    • End-use Applications: The research at the University of Manchester has applications in diverse sectors such as fashion, healthcare, and automotive industries. For example, nano-coated textiles can repel water and stains, making them ideal for outdoor apparel and upholstery fabrics. Additionally, nanofiber-based materials can be used in wound dressings and air filtration systems, contributing to improved health and well-being.

commercial_img Commercial Implementation

Advanced materials and nanotechnology are already being commercially implemented by various brands and textile manufacturers.

  • Nike: This sportswear giant utilizes nanofinishing technologies to create water-repellent and breathable fabrics for its performance apparel.
  • The North Face: This outdoor apparel brand uses advanced materials and nanotechnology to develop high-performance garments with enhanced durability, water resistance, and insulation properties.