Wednesday, October 10, 2007


Geelong Research of the year Award Winners of the year. (From Left to Right) Dr.Stuart Lucas,Dr.Scot Sheedy,Mr.Nick Schopman.

CSIRO's - Dr Scott Sheedy, Dr Stuart Lucas and Nick Schopman were among 10 scientists awarded Smart Geelong Network Researcher of the Year Awards at a dinner held at the Wool Exchange on Saturday, 25 August.

The winners were each awarded A $ 5000.00 for their research achievements in a wide range of fields including: biomedical, biotechnology, animal health, sustainable environment, partnerships, innovation and advanced manufacturing, health and wellbeing, teaching and learning and youth in the community.

Mr.Robin Cranston of CSIRO.

Mr Robin Cranston: at the forefront of biomedical textile research Mr Robin Cranston has been active in CSIRO’s research for the textile, clothing and footwear industries for more than 37 years and is developing textile arm and leg sleeves for preventing skin tears in the elderly and bed-ridden.


Consultancies to industry.

Futuristic fibrous materials.

Healing and monitoring.


Over his time at CSIRO, Mr Cranston’s interests have ranged across fundamental research on:

The protein structure of wool, collagen, myosin and flu-virus coat protein


Development of new processing technologies for the leather industries.

Industrial transfer of those technologies world wide.

“We have to get inside their world to find out what they will be comfortable with and how they might want to take up a research and development opportunity. It’s very rewarding work.”

Mr Robin Cranston.

Project Leader.

CSIRO Textile a& Fibre Technology.

Consultancies to industry.

Mr Cranston has consulted to the textile, clothing and footwear industries on industrial and chemical processing and environmental control.

'We spend a lot of time listening to people in industry,' he says.

'We have to get inside their world to find out what they will be comfortable with and how they might want to take up a research and development opportunity. It’s very rewarding work.'

Mr Cranston says one of the highlights of his work was taking new leather processing technology to trial in a small tannery in northern Italy.

"We were simply let loose,' he says. 'I was allowed to run our new process on full-scale commercial processing equipment. It was a real buzz, especially being thrown into Italian culture."

Futuristic fibrous materials.

At CSIRO Textile & Fibre Technology, Mr Cranston has led the development of new approaches aimed at changing the surface properties of wool fibres, exploring opportunities for wool in high technology fibre markets.

He also has a major interest in the role of advanced textiles in the rapidly growing medical textile field.

CSIRO’s textile arm and leg sleeves for preventing skin tears in the elderly and bed-ridden are an example.

Nearly 15 per cent of people in high-care nursing homes have a skin tear at any one time, according to research at the Victorian College of Pharmacy.

The fabric chosen by the CSIRO team for the protective sleeves is 95 per cent fine Merino wool and 5 per cent Lycra™, a combination that can be worked into a soft, lightweight textile that is cool in summer while still preventing the chills that accompany poor circulation.

The researchers have developed a specialised knit structure with two crucial mechanical properties. The fabric can stretch in both dimensions by 100 per cent without applying any significant extra pressure, which could be harmful. This makes garments easy to put on over ankles and wrists. The skin cover also provides the necessary close fit, to avoid the friction that causes tears.

CSIRO’s research on the sleeves has been supported by Australian Wool Innovation Ltd.

Healing and monitoring.

Mr Cranston and his team are extending their research into ‘smart textiles’ – materials able to respond to external stimuli. He is currently the Research Group Leader for the biomedical textiles group.

In advanced wound management we can conceive textiles that will be able to sense and respond to biological or physical changes like temperature, pH, wound inflammation or vital life signs like heart rhythm,' Mr Cranston says.

In other areas, there are phase-changing materials that can absorb heat, shear thickening systems that can be used to absorb impact and shape memory materials that can alter their form and allow a textile to go from being a flat, cool fabric to a high-bulk insulating material as the temperature drops.

Mr.Ken Atkinson of CSIRO.
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Ken Atkinson.

Mr Ken Atkinson, creating a world first in textile development.

Mr Ken Atkinson: spinning a BULLET - PROOF Yarn.

Mr Ken Atkinson and his team are working on ways to industrialise the carbon nanotube spinning process.

Current activities.


To Texas.

The future.

By applying twist to carbon nanofibres, CSIRO has produced extremely fine, multi-ply yarns with a diameter only two per cent of that of a human hair. The yarns are relatively strong and have many other remarkable properties.

Current activities.

Mr Ken Atkinson is a Project Leader at CSIRO Textile & Fibre Technology. One of his project areas is the application of carbon nanotubes in textiles.

Mr Atkinson and his research team are working with the NanoTech Institute of the University of Texas to develop fabrics made of carbon nanotubes - minute fibres that are often only 300 micrometres long (about one-third of a millimetre).

In 2003, Mr Atkinson applied his understanding of the mechanics of staple yarn structure to the problem of producing indefinitely long yarns from carbon nanotubes.

His theoretical calculations and computer simulations suggested that carbon nanotubes could be spun into yarn, just as conventional textile fibres like wool and cotton have been for centuries.


A physicist, he has decades of experience in inventing and developing new textile technologies, and is recognised internationally for numerous commercial innovations in fibre and yarn processing.

He understands the importance of factors such as robustness, productivity and quality to the commercial success of new discoveries.

Mr Atkinson has a deep understanding of yarn structure and insights into how carbon nanotubes can be assembled into structures that will enable the remarkable properties of nanotubes to be exploited more economically.

“The carbon nanotubes form a conga-line!”

Mr Ken Atkinson, CSIRO Textiles & Fibre Technology.

To Texas.

Mr Atkinson took his concept of twisting carbon nanotubes together into long yarns to the NanoTech Institute, where researchers use catalytic vapour deposition to grow carbon nanotubes in 'forests' - closely aligned fibres, resembling a plantation of bamboo.

‘Their forests have the convenient property that when the nanotubes are pulled from a small section, nearby nanotubes in the forest cling to them, and the group comes away as a net or string of material,’ he said. ‘They form a conga-line!’

The first yarns were produced by hand, but this was too slow, so a method of twisting with a small, high-speed motor was set up.

‘We produce metres of carbon nanotube yarn without the need for binding agents, which usually degrade the electrical properties of the nanotube fibres.’

The key concept Mr Atkinson said ‘is to apply sufficient twist to cause the carbon nanotube structure to self-lock, so the tensile force pulling it apart generates frictional forces that hold it together.’

The future.

Nanotube yarn might eventually find applications in high-value commercial products, such as:

Artificial muscles.

Electronic textiles.

Bulletproof clothing.

Satellite tethers.

Filaments for high intensity x-ray and light sources.

Yarns for energy storage and generation that can be incorporated into textiles.

Mr Atkinson and his team are working on ways to industrialise the spinning process — dealing with issues such as efficiency, spinning head design and productivity. They are also working on yarns made from blends of nanotube fibres with polymers.
Find out more about the work CSIRO does in Textiles.

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