Morphological changes in textile fibres exposed to environmental stresses: atomic force microscopic examination
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The ability of the atomic force microscope (AFM) to investigate the nanoscopic morphological changes in the surfaces of fabrics was examined for the first time. This study focussed on two natural (cotton and wool), and a regenerated cellulose (viscose) textile fibres exposed to various environmental stresses for different lengths of times. Analyses of the AFM images allowed us to measure quantitatively the surface texture parameters of the environmentally stressed fabrics as a function of the exposure time. It was also possible to visualise at the nanoscale the finest details of the surfaces of three weathered fabrics and clearly distinguish between the detrimental effects of the imposed environmental conditions. This study confirmed that the AFM could become a very powerful tool in forensic examination of textile fibres to provide significant fibre evidence due to its capability of distinguishing between different environmental exposures or forced damages to fibres.