Leather is a natural, durable and flexible material that has been prepared and used by humans for millennia. Now, scientists in India have developed magnetic leathers that can make this material evermore versatile.
Made from animal hide, leather is largely made of a chromium-collagen matrix and is paramagnetic. Despite this, it does not interact effectively with magnetic fields. Introducing ferromagnetic properties to leather could enable this material to be used in smart or intelligent garments, electromagnetic interference shielding, adhesive-free wall covering and even in energy harvesting from human motion. As such, a team lead by Dr Krishbaraj Kaliappa at the Central Leather Institute in Chennai, added iron oxide nanoparticles to leather that show significant magnetic behaviour.
The team prepared leather samples using conventional finishing techniques. During this process, they applied a coating of iron oxide nanoparticles produced by co-precipitation, or a commercially available magnetic pigment. The presence of Fe3O2 in both samples was confirmed by X-ray diffraction analysis. When compared to the paramagnetic control leather, magnetic hysteresis revealed considerable ferromagnetic behavior in the two samples. In addition, the leathers show significant response to permanent magnets. Further tests revealed that particle incorporation leaves other physical properties of the leather, largely unchanged.
Investigations in to the applications of these magnetic leathers have already shown them to be promising adhesive-free wall tiles. The team also demonstrate that their properties may also enable application in electromagnetic energy generation from human motion.
|Digital images of the control leather , that with iron oxide nanoparticles and that with the commercially available magnetic pigment added during finishing.|
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P. Thanikaivelan, R. Murali and K. Krishnaraj
RSC Adv., 2016,6, 6496-6503 DOI: 10.1039/C5RA21909D