The Hub was well represented at the recent Fiber Society Fall Conference held at the University of California, Davis on October 29-31st. A/Prof Joe Razal gave a presentation on “MXene fibers: The new member of functional fibers made from two-dimensional nanosheets and Dr Alessandra Sutti presented on “Short nanofibers-based hierarchical structures for lipase immobilisation”. Prof Xungai Wang chaired a session on functional fibres.

A report from Xungai and Joe after they returned highlighted several of the interesting presentations they saw. Of particular note was Prof Yi Cui from Stanford who works on fibres across multiple length scales for applications in energy storages, electronics, and heating/cooling textiles. He has started up four companies in recent years to commercialise research outcomes. Other interesting talks covered alginate fibre-based actuators, centrifugal spinning of nanofibres, cotton recycling, nanomaterials from rice straw waste and a spinning process inspired by silk.

The conference dinner speaker was Alex Patist of Bolt Threads – an innovative textile company with two key technologies: Microsilk – production of spider-inspired silk protein through fermentation of bioengineered yeast, and Mylo – using mycelium (underground root structure of mushrooms) to self-assemble into a supple material which looks and feels like animal leather. They have released a tie made from Microsilk, and a bag made from Mylo.

Overall the trip was a great opportunity to network with the fibre community and discover innovative fibre research being conducted across the globe. There are now new potential collaborations on the horizon including with UC Davis and North Carolina State University.