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Creating a better wig with chemistry

Een betere pruik - met chemieACS Applied Materials & Interfaces 2022, DOI: 10.1021/acsami.2c05965″ width=”800″ height=”300″/>

Hairs covered with a nanocomposite (left) using the Langmuir-Blodgett technique generate much less static electricity than untreated hairs (right). Credit: Adapted from ACS applied materials and interfaces 2022, DOI: 10.1021/acsami.2c05965

For some people, wigs are a fun and colorful fashion accessory, but for those with hair loss from alopecia or other conditions, they can provide a real sense of normalcy and boost confidence. Whether made from human or synthetic strands, most hairpieces lose their shine after being worn day in and day out. Now, researchers in ACS applied materials and interfaces report a new way to make wigs more durable and long lasting.

Wigs come in all colors of the rainbow and in every style imaginable. Some cover the entire head, while others are “extensions,” sections of hair clipped onto existing strands to make them look fuller or longer. Hairpieces can be made from real human locks or from synthetic materials, but either way, washing, UV exposure from the sun and repeated styling can cause these products to become dry and brittle. To extend the wearable life of wigs, some researchers have sprayed a layer of graphene oxide on them, while other teams have immersed wig hairs in a keratin/halloysite nanocomposite. Because it is difficult to cover an entire hairpiece with these methods, Guang Yang, Huali Nie and colleagues wanted to see if a nanocomposite was applied with a proven approach to coating surfaces with ultra-thin films – known as the Langmuir-Blodgett (LB) technique—can improve coverage and increase durability.

The researchers first developed a keratin and graphene oxide nanocomposite as a coating material. To coat hairs with the LB method, they dipped a few human or synthetic hairs in water in a special device with movable side barriers. After the nanocomposite was dispersed on the water’s surface with an atomizer, the barriers were moved inward to compress the film — like the trash compactor that nearly crushed the heroes in the “Star Wars” movie. After 30 minutes, the researchers lifted the hairs out of the water and as they did so, the film covered the strands.

Compared to the immersion technique, the LB method offered more coverage. In addition, hairs treated with the LB approach suffered less UV damage, were less prone to breakage and were able to retain more moisture than hairs simply immersed in the nanocomposite. They also dissipated heat better and generated less static electricity when rubbed with a rubber sheet. The researchers say the method could be scaled up for use by companies that make wigs.

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More information:
Shan Du et al, high performance wigs via the Langmuir-Blodgett deposit of keratin/graphene oxide nanocomposite, ACS applied materials and interfaces (2022). DOI: 10.1021/acsami.2c05965

Provided by American Chemical Society

Quote: Making a Better Wig with Chemistry (2022, June 13) retrieved June 13, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-06-wig-chemistry.html

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