10 Nov 2009

NZ researcher comes up with golden fleece

8:57 pm on 10 November 2009

When Jason rescued the golden fleece from the sleeping dragon, he probably didn't consider turning it into a luxury fibre that could be used in high-end fashion garments, textiles and carpets.

Two milleniums later, New Zealand scientists have addressed that oversight by developing technology that integrates nano particles of silver and gold with wool.

It's this work that gained Professor Jim Johnston, from Victoria University's School of Chemical and Physical Sciences, one of the top prizes at this year's Bayer Innovators Awards.

It was his idea to bind wool with silver or gold, creating a high-value product aimed at the luxury end of the fibre market.

The benefits, he says, are in the anti-microbial qualities of the fibre which keep it naturally pest-free.

Professor Johnston says the idea was to add value to a high-quality New Zealand fibre.

He says the fibre doesn't have the gold glitter, but depending on the particles used, it can take on different colours.

Professor Johnston says the technology has already attracted interest from companies keen to use it, but the prototype needs to be further developed before it's able to be used commercially.