Announcing The First Woven Nanomaterial


Berkeley is first again.

Berkeley, Calif., has a proud history of being the first to do lots of things: implement police radios, ban Styrofoam, give health benefits to domestic partners, voluntarily integrate public schools, and put cops on bikes. Now it is leading the way in a new era of technology: weaving fabric out of nanomaterials.

Weaving is a pretty old hobby; it's been around for at least 10,000 years, and is one of the most reliable ways of making textiles. But even in the race to make the best nanomaterial, no one has quite been able to implement this tried-and-true method on the world's strongest and smallest materials, until now. 

Scientists led by the Berkeley Lab and the University of California Berkeley have woven together the first 3D COF made of synthetic materials. COFs, or covalent organic frameworks, are often used to store things like hydrogen and methane.

The creators say these COFs are superior to their competitors in that they are more flexible and resilient, and presumably harder to break down. 

"The threads have many degrees of freedom to move away from and back to [the places where they overlap] without collapsing the overall structure," explains Omar Yaghi, a chemist who worked on the project, in a press release. He calls it "a boon to making materials with exceptional mechanical properties and dynamics."

The unique properties of the material also allow it to easily sequester carbon, an important element of many plans for curbing climate change. It would also enable chemists to convert carbon dioxide to carbon monoxide, which is a critical part of creating fuels, plastics and pharmaceuticals. Carbon monoxide has also been studied as a potential element of treatment for cardiovascular disease, inflammatory disorders and to aid organ transplantation.

The creators of the new nanomaterial have published a paper Jan. 22 in the journal Science.

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