Textiles Self-Cleaning In Sunlight
Researchers have developed a cheap and efficient new way to grow special nanostructures – which can degrade organic matter when exposed to light – directly onto textiles.
(Close-up of the nanostructures grown on cotton textiles)
The work paves the way towards nano-enhanced textiles that can spontaneously clean themselves of stains and grime simply by being put under a light bulb or worn out in the sun...
The challenge for researchers has been to bring the concept out of the lab by working out how to build these nanostructures on an industrial scale and permanently attach them to textiles.
The RMIT team’s novel approach was to grow the nanostructures directly onto the textiles by dipping them into a few solutions, resulting in the development of stable nanostructures within 30 minutes.
When exposed to light, it took less than six minutes for some of the nano-enhanced textiles to spontaneously clean themselves.
Science fiction fans are ready to order their self-cleaing clothing; Neal Stephenson serves up the vision from his 1995 book The Diamond Age:
...with a quick brush, John and Gwendolyn were able to transfer most of the dirt onto their white gloves. From there it went straight into the air. Most gentlemen's and ladies' gloves nowadays were constructed of infinitesimal fabricules that knew how to eject dirt; you could thrust your gloved hand into mud, and it would be white a few seconds later.
(Read more about fabricules)
Update: Thanks to @Fred Kiesche for pointing out this reference, which I can't wait to watch.
(The Man in the White Suit)
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