Absorbent Beads and Hollow Silica Shells Novel Transport Additives in Smart Textiles

Dr Daniel Lynch

Exilica Limited


Incorporated in 2005, Exilica Limited is a UK university spin-out company that has been established to exploit the production and use of spherical polymer micro-beads (Fig. 1) and hollow silica nano-shells (Fig. 2). Both the beads and the shells can be used to ‘contain’ a variety of other materials and compounds and find use as novel transport / delivery agents. The beads take on such species via an absorption mechanism, much like a sponge, whereas in the case of the shells, the filling compounds are contained within the shell void space. Both types of particles can discharge their contents in varying release mechanisms, depending upon their environment and / or final formulation. The preparations of both the beads and the shells are inherently simple and scaleable, allowing for large-scale industrial production.

The potential applications for Exilica's polymer beads and hollow silica shells are numerous and range from drug delivery and cosmetics through to coatings and catalysts. Both particle types are of a suitable size and shape to allow them to be incorporated into polymer sheeting / fibres. In this presentation, snapshot case studies, supported by experimental data, will be used to highlight the usefulness of the beads and shells as novel transport additives in polymer forms that can be used to create smart textiles. Information will also be given relating to specific structural properties inherent in both the beads and the shells that give them advantages in certain applications over competitive technologies.

Figure 1 Spherical polymer micro-beads

Figure 2 Hollow silica shells

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