Issue No 6: May 2003
Research growth continues
Quick reaction to SARS
Translation strategies lead to Chinese version of Buddhism
Database of 35 million characters helps scholars and writers
Confucius’ poetry collection delivers insights into symbolism
3D model smoothes problems in creating ultra-precision surfaces
Nano views of electrolyte behaviour
Sun block ‘skin’ applied to textiles
Greater efficiency for clean building formula
Spin-offs from world’s smallest nanotube
New generation of electrical ceramics

Golfers and other outdoor people will soon be wearing sportsclothes coated with a sun-blocking skin developed by researchers at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University.
The nanoscale layer, made up of hybrid polymers and monomers, is presently the subject of a US patent application. Originally supported by a RGC grant, further funding came from the Innovation Technology Fund when the research’s potential became clearer.

Left: Dr Xin oversees the mix of materials. Right: Fabric without and with the sun-block layer.

The chemical layer, which can be applied to textiles using an inexpensive conventional dip-and-squeeze process, is less than 100 nanometres thick, about 0.0001 mm. It acts like a shield against harmful ultraviolet sunlight, dramatically reducing the risks of sunburn, premature skin ageing, and skin cancer.
Compared to untreated fabric, the layer gives more than five times better protection, said Principal Investigator Dr John Xin of PolyU’s Institute of Textiles and Clothing. And after 55 washes, the treated fabric still has strong UV-absorbing qualities so is considered permanent, he added.
His research is now moving on to nanoscale stain-repelling and anti-microbial finishes.

Principal Investigator
Dr John Xin :