Wool is a natural material and one of the oldest fibres used for warmth and protection. It naturally provides comfort and warmth by managing moisture and temperature, is flame retardant, binds colour, and binds and neutralises pollution.
We are investigating the composition and structure of wool and methods to develop new materials that maximise these natural properties but change the physical format of the wool fibre. Through conversion of wool into particles, powders, pigments and extruded materials, the natural properties of wool are delivered into a wide range of products well beyond traditional fibre use. These include re-formed fibres, powders, pigments and particles.
Cellulose is a highly abundant and widely used natural material. However, methods of conversion of cellulose into textile fibres are typically environmentally damaging. We are developing cellulose-based materials from a range of plant sources using conversion methods that are much more sustainable than current industrial practice. This opens up the potential to use a wider range of plant materials for cellulose sourcing as well as improving existing cellulose fibre production.
A metamaterial is an artificial material with properties not found in naturally occurring materials. They are assembled from multiple individual elements using composite materials such as metals and plastics. While relatively uncommon and at the forefront of research, they are used for guiding and focusing light, microwaves or sound waves in ways that are impossible with natural materials. For example, a meta material can be made to have a negative refractive index so that light ‘bends the wrong way’ when passing through it, yielding otherwise impossible properties.
Our main metamaterials research is cutting edge development of theory, design, and fabrication of microwave negative-refractive-index lenses using metamaterials. These lenses, made from fastidiously designed and fabricated electronic components and structures, have the potential to be “perfect lenses”, breaking conventional microwave resolution limits.