A team of scientists in Australia have developed a textile that cleans itself.
Over recent years, scientists have been working to create self-cleaning materials with the use of nanotechnology. A team from Australia’s Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) came across a breakthrough upon inventing a special kind of nanostructure that degrades organic material when hit with direct light.
Their findings were published in the scientific journal Advanced Materials Interfaces, explaining that when the nanostructures are exposed to light, they receive an energy boost that creates “hot electrons” that can break down matter. To incorporate this process in the textile industry, the team dipped fabric in a special solution, allowing the nanostructures to grow directly on the material within 30 minutes.
The team found that it took only six minutes for the material to start cleaning itself after being exposed to light.
“The advantage of textiles is they already have a 3D structure so they are great at absorbing light, which in turn speeds up the process of degrading organic matter,” said author of the study, Rajesh Ramanathan. “There’s more work to do before we can start throwing out our washing machines, but this advance lays a strong foundation for the future development of fully self-cleaning textiles.”
The average washing machine takes about half an hour to complete a wash cycle, and a normal dryer cycle can cause garments to shrink by 7%. The self-cleaning material would likely save time and save wardrobes from laundry-related wear and tear.
In addition to relieving individuals of the monotonous task of laundering clothes, this new technology could also impact the development of pharmaceuticals and natural products. It could also be used to detect the presence of important or dangerous gases or to eliminate harmful bacteria in hospital beds and garments.