The Hohenstein Institute and ITCF Denkendorf, the Institute for Textile Chemistry and Chemical
Fibers, both based in Germany, have developed a textile treatment that effectively screens out both
electromagnetic (EM) and infrared (IR) radiation. The treatment uses indium tin oxide (ITO), which
is integrated into or coated onto man-made fibers to provide the screening effect. Tests conducted
by researchers have shown the treatment is not biologically harmful, and that the treated textiles
are comfortable as well as wash-, abrasion- and weathering-resistant.
“These novel materials are not only extremely effective at screening radiation but they also
conduct electricity so they are anti-static,” said Dr. Edith Classen, project leader. “This makes
them ideal for use in Personal Protection Equipment for firemen, workers in foundries and welding
workshops, in the semiconductor industry or for maintenance staff working on telecommunications
Classen also anticipates potential domestic and technical textile applications. “For example,
you could imagine making roller blinds which not only screen out solar radiation in summer to keep
the room cool, but at the same time also offer protection from the electromagnetic radiation from
mobile phone masts in the vicinity,” she said. ITO-treated textiles in military uniforms could make
the wearer invisible to IR cameras as well as provide protection from EM radiation.
In other news, Hohenstein Institute researchers have teamed with the Germany-based Institute
for Wood Technology and Research Institute of Leather and Plastic Sheeting to develop new types of
upholstery for use on public transport, car seats, easy chairs and mattresses that would offer
improved hygiene. The groups are studying the link between moisture accumulation and the
colonization of bacteria or fungi, and plan to create guidelines for material selection and
structural designs that would help transport moisture out of the upholstery.