Clothing Created to Block Flu, Colds

So when Ong joined the team, she didn't have all the colors she would normally use in her Glitterati.

"They pretty much told me what I was going to get," she said.

So she plunged in, fighting a two-week deadline to get the garments ready for the fashion show.

"The first time it was really a mess," she said. "I had to use the fabric they already had in the lab, and it came out splotchy."

The second time, though, was a charm. The denim jacket has material coated with nanoparticles strategically placed around the neck, on the ends of sleeves, around the hem, and on a hood and scarf. The dress is coated around the neck and on the sleeves.

Not sure how they would show at New York Fashion Week, but to a science writer, they look smashing.

And it's not over yet. Hinestroza has gotten into the flow now, and he's looking toward the future. He wants to come up with a way to move the particles around on the fabric, rearranging them so that he can change colors.

"So you could go to the office with a blue shirt, and you have a party at night and you don't want to go home," he said. "You supply an electric field [thus moving the particles] and your shirt becomes black and you can go to your party."

Sound fabulous? Hinestroza admits that's a ways away right now. But give him a couple of weeks.

And what's that bit about never needing washing? The size of the particles makes it harder for the fabric to absorb stains, the scientists say, so there's less need to wash the garment.

But if that catches on, maybe Hinestroza's lab ought to come up with a nanoparticle that captures odors.

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