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 Tech of the Week

World's first non-dyed, structurally colored fibers

Nissan Motor Co., Ltd.

Fibers are based on the wing structure of the Morpho butterfly.

MORPHOTEX® fibers are the world’s first non-dyed, nanotechnology-based, structurally colored chromogenic fibers. They use the color principle of a Morpho butterfly. The technology marks a significant advance in the history of dyeing based on the use of natural and artificial dyes.

MORPHOTEX® is an unstained, structurally colored fiber. This technology is based on the biomimetic conception for the microscopic structure of Morpho butterfly’s wings. Thin films of 70 nm thickness consisting either of polyester or nylon are laminated in 61 layers alternatively, and four types of basic colors such as red, green, blue, and violet are allowed to be developed by precisely controlling the layer thickness according to visible wavelength. No dyes or pigments are used. Rather, color is created based on the varying thickness and structure of fibers. Energy consumption and industrial waste are reduced because no dye process needs to be used. Morphotex fibers have wide application; for example, filament, short-cut fiber, and powdery materials (e.g. MORPHOTONE®).

Due to anisotropic characteristics and its glossiness, the fiber is expected to have various applications in a wide range of fields, not limited to fabric or knitting for a general use, but reaching those of painting, cosmetics, and even craft works. MORPHOTEX® is already commercially used for clothing, nail polish, mascara, coating of musical instruments, and fishing rods.

The structurally colored fibers developed in this research have the following properties and features. (Note: 1 dtex is unit for the weight of 1 gram for a 9,000m fiber.)

  • Strength of the yarn is about 3 or 4 g/dtex.
  • Elongation of the filament is about 25 or 45%.
  • Shrinkage (boil-off shrinkage) of the yarn is prepared to be at a relatively low level of 1 to 5%.

The mechanical properties noted below may be sufficient for general uses.

Coloration by optical interference can exhibit compound material properties, including clarity, transparency, and a sensation of depth.

Anisotropic characteristics by which the color changes subtly depending on viewing angle.

Reduction of waste dye solution and the amount of energy that would otherwise be consumed in the dying process as a non-dyed fiber.

Structure of the fiber.

The new fiber is designed for the manufacture of fabrics. Depending on factors such as which dyed fibers are to be combined, which methods are to be applied for spinning and weaving, designs etc., the fabric has great possibilities for developing diverse colors and improving material quality of the fabrics.

This technology is supported by 13 US patents, 12 Japanese patents and 25 European patents. The most recent year of issue is 2003.

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