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Solgel treatment

Solgel technology for textile treatment

The increasing demand for multifunctional materials requires a stronger multidisciplinary approach as well as the merging of the traditional scientific disciplines (chemistry, physics, biology,…) into new cross-boundary technologies. Moreover, these novel technologies have to be able to bridge the gap between polymers, ceramics or metals, between organic and inorganic materials, or between the mineral and biological world. Sol-gel technology might offer a solution.

The first experiments on sol-gel already took place in the fifties of the previous century. By their inorganic nature, sol-gel layers are extremely strong and wear resistant. Therefore, very thin 'nanometric' layers suffice to obtain the desired effects. Since several years, there is an increasing interest in the application of the sol-gel technology for textile treatment. However, the formulas and methods used in other industrial branches have to be adapted to the raw materials and specific textile properties.

The solgel principle

The preparatory material (or precursor) used to produce the "sol" usually consists of inorganic metal salts or metal organic components, such as metal alkoxides. These precursors are submitted to a series of hydrolyse and polymerisation reactions to create a colloidal suspension (or "sol").

solgel_principe

By further processing this suspension, this sol is transformed into a ceramic material in different forms for different applications:

  • thin layers (films) are applied by spin-coating or dip-coating
  • by moulding the "sol" we obtain a wet gel that
    • will form a dense ceramic structure after evaporation and heat treatment
    • under super critical conditions, it will form a very porous material with an extremely low density (aerogel)
  • by adjusting the sol's viscosity it is possible to manufacture ceramic fibres
  • by precipitation, spray pyrolysis or emulsion techniques we will obtain ultra-fine and uniform ceramic powders