01. 21. 2005
A new coating developed by scientists in South Carolina could give us self-cleaning jackets and skirts.
"The concept is based on the lotus plant, whose leaves are well-known for their ability to 'self-clean' by repelling water and dirt," explains researcher Phil Brown.
When the treated fabric is exposed to water, "the dirt will be carried away more easily," Brown adds. Unlike today's water-repellent coatings, which gradually wear off, this one permanently bonds to fibers. Brown's team is also trying to engineer antimicrobial particles into the coating to repel body odor and cigarette smoke.
Other researchers are working on self-cleaning clothes using sunlight. Walid Daoud of Hong Kong Polytechnic University is impregnating fabrics with titanium dioxide nanoparticles, which react with natural light to break down dirt.
Others are developing odor-fighting fabrics. Two researchers at Hanyang University in South Korea have tested silver nanoparticles in socks, rugs, napkins and surgical masks.