UGA hosts world’s top fiber researchers

UGA hosts world's top fiber researchers

Athens, Ga. – Many of the world’s top fiber researchers will be on the University of Georgia campus Oct. 28-30 to discuss their research in the use of fibers in areas ranging from biomedical applications to the creation of “smart surfaces” that can respond to a variety of stimuli.

While the name Fiber Society might cause many to expect the conference is focused on traditional fabrics, that’s generally not the case, according to Ian Hardin, Georgia Power Professor of Textile Sciences in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences and conference chair. Instead, many of the presentations focus on the development of nanofibers.

“A single cotton fiber is about 20 microns in diameter,” Hardin said in explaining how small nanofibers are. “That strand is 20,000 times the size of a nanometer. You can literally create a fabric of nanofibers that you would not be able to see, but something is there,” he explained.

This Fiber Society meeting will be attended by members from 14 countries, including Turkey, Australia, India, Japan, China, Russia and Poland.

The plenary lecture for the conference will be given by Jason Locklin, a UGA assistant professor of chemistry and a member of the Faculty of Engineering. Locklin’s talk is titled, “Creating Smart Surfaces for Polymers and Fibers Using Polymer Brushes.”

Hardin, who also conducts research with Locklin on the creation and use of brush polymers, explained them as being a bit like the hairs of a brush, except on a nano scale. The polymers stand upright because they have been given multiple charges.

“These smart surfaces can be programmed to respond to a variety of stimuli,” Hardin said. “They might conduct electricity, but they also might respond to bacterial contamination or sense poisonous gases in a room and create a response.”

Many of the presentations also will focus on new ways fibers are being used in the medical field. For example, researchers are exploring ways fibers can serve as artificial blood vessels or serve as scaffolding for cells to grow on that would become artificial ligaments. In many cases these fabrics would gradually dissolve leaving behind the human tissue.

In addition to Hardin and Locklin, other UGA faculty who will present papers at the conference include Charles Yang and Suraj Sharma, both of whom are faculty members in the textiles, merchandising and interiors department of the College of Family and Consumer Sciences. Several of their graduate students also will present posters of their research.