The National Nanotechnology Centre has set a plan to develop nanotechnology focusing on two areas with potential -- functional textiles and cosmetic-pharmaceuticals.
The centre hopes that nanotechnology development will create more added value for local products while opening up business opportunities for the industry for further market penetration.
According to Nanotec's director Wiwut Tanthapanichakoon, nanotechnology can be used to develop new functional textiles to give them added features.
The centre started the development of nanotechnology in this area by using nano-particles of silver coated on the textile to give clothes anti-bacterial properties. Wiwut said the next step was to move towards the development of what he called bicomponent fibre, a combination of two different polymers with different chemical properties.
He said the technology would bring the two polymers together in the spinning process and then extrude them into a bicomponent fibre. This would create the possibility of utilising the properties of two polymers at the same time and thereby offer fibres with several new features.
He said the centre was now working on research to develop bicomponent fibre to support the textiles industry. The research will study the polymers' properties and combine appropriate polymers together to get new features as required.
"We now have knowledge to develop biocomponent fibre and we hope to move up a step into production," he said.
The centre plans to establish a pilot plant for small-scale production of biocomponent fibre technology before the technology comes into commercial use.
Wiwut said the centre planned to work with the industry and invite textiles companies to join the project. The centre has to submit a proposal to set up the pilot plant to the National Science and Technology Development Agency for approval first. The establishment of pilot plant for biocomponent fibre requires Bt70 million.
He added that cosmetic-pharmaceuticals were another area where nanotechnology played important role. The technology can be used to develop, for example, a small-scale delivery system which can deliver active ingredients or drugs to targeted areas and this would improve the efficiency of cosmetics and pharmaceutical products.
Nanotechnology research in this area includes the development of lipid nano particles or chitosan-based nanocapsules to build controlled carriers for cosmetics products, cosmetics masks and a new kind of wound dressing.