Moisture wicking textiles with directional water transport


The use of textile-based clothing is predominant globally owing to its flexibility, cost and effectiveness especially during hot and humid conditions. Due to the rapid climatic changes and global warming, demand for quick drying performance-based clothes has significantly increased. This has attracted significant attention of many researchers. Among the available commercial materials for personal moisture wicking, textiles composed of profiled fibers is the commonly used moisture wicking technology. It employs capillarity force to get rid of sweat from the body. Unfortunately, textile exhibit a bidirectional water transport system thus during the transfer of the moisture, both the inner and outer side of the textiles will get wet hence clinging to the body which may lead to more discomfort.

To this note, the challenge is to develop a directional water transport system. The porous materials can be classified as either wettability gradient or Janus wettability which signify a gradual change in wettability and abrupt change in wettability across the porous materials respectively. However, they experience several limitations including difficulties in preventing the transport of water in the reverse direction and balancing the flow of water in the forward direction. Therefore, researchers have been looking for alternatives and have identified the combination of the two strategies as a promising solution to balance the water transport capacity and prevent penetration in the reverse direction. Consequently, multilayered electrospun fibrous membranes have the potential of achieving progressive wettability in conjunction with the two strategies.

In a recent research paper published in Small, Donghua University scientists: Professor Bin Ding, Professor Xianfeng Wang, Professor Jianyong Yu and Dr. Dongyang Miao developed a functional moisture wicking textile with directional water transport capability. It was based on trilayered fibrous membrane fabricated through electrospinning method followed by alkali treatment. They used hydrolyzed polyacrylonitrile-SiO2 fibrous membrane as the outer layer and polyurethane as the inner layer. Furthermore, a transfer layer was introduced to achieve progressive wettability by guiding water penetration from the inner layer to the outer layer while blocking penetration in the reverse direction. They purposed to develop more comfortable and efficient wicking textiles for hot and humid conditions.

The author observed a high directional water transport capacity for the resulting trilayered fibrous membrane. For instance, a directional transport index of 1021% and a reverse breakthrough pressure of 16.1 cm H2O was obtained. This was greater than those obtained for bilayered fibrous membrane.

The study by Donghua University researchers successfully proposed a directional water transport mechanism for functional textiles. This was attributed to the additional transfer layer which resulted in the progressive water flow from the inner layer to the outer layer while preventing the reverse flow. Additionally, the successful synthesis of such fascinating materials paves the way to understand the directional water transport mechanism which would be valuable for the design of functional textiles for personal drying applications, such as workwear and advanced sportswear.

Moisture wicking textiles with directional water transport - Advances in Engineering
A functional moisture wicking textile based on trilayered hydrophobic/transfer/superhydrophilic fibrous membranes with directional water transport ability is prepared for continuous sweat release. Reprinted with permission from (Small 2018, 14, 1801527). Copyright © 2018, John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

About the author

Dr. Bin Ding received his B.S in Northeast Normal University, China in 1998 and his M.S in Chonbuk National University, Korea in 2003. After that he earned his Ph.D. degree in Keio University, Japan in 2005. Currently he is a Full Professor in Innovation Center for Textile Science and Technology in Donghua University and awarded as “Changjiang Scholar” by Ministry of Education, China.

His research mainly focuses on filtration materials, waterproof and breathable fabrics, oil-water separation materials, flexible ceramic nanofibers, nanofiber aerogels et al. He has already published more than 230 SCI papers and has been authorized more than 60 patents.

About the author

Dr. Xianfeng Wang graduated with B.S. and M.E. in Textile Materials and Textile Design from the Qingdao University (2005 and 2008). He holds a Ph.D. degree in Textile Materials and Textile Design from the Donghua University (2012), and then worked at West Virginia University as a postdoctoral researcher (2012-2015). He is now a full professor of the College of Textiles, Donghua University.

His current research focuses on the fabrication of bio-inspired multistructured materials for directional water transport, CO2 capture, sensor applications, personal thermal and moisture regulation et al. Dr. Wang has published more than 50 SCI-indexed peer-reviewed journal articles and 7 collaborated books.

About the author

Dr. Jianyong Yu received his B.S, M.S and Ph.D. degrees in College of Textiles in Donghua University in 1985, 1988 and 1991, respectively. He is currently a Full Professor in Innovation Center for Textile Science and Technology in Donghua University and an academician of Chinese Academy of Engineering.

His research interests include natural and synthetic fibers, functional textile materials, textile composites and industrial textiles et al. He has published more than 300 SCI papers and has been authorized more than 100 patents.

About the author

Ms. Dongyang Miao received his B.S degree of Nonwoven Materials and Engineering from Nantong University in 2015. He is currently pursuing Ph.D. degree with Prof. Xianfeng Wang in College of Textile at Donghua University. His present research interest is focused on the fabrication of multistructured fibrous membranes with directional water transport for smart moisture-wicking fabrics.


Miao, D., Huang, Z., Wang, X., Yu, J., & Ding, B. (2018). Continuous, Spontaneous, and Directional Water Transport in the Trilayered Fibrous Membranes for Functional Moisture Wicking Textiles. Small, 14(32), 1801527.

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