IF YOUR pile of laundry never seems to get any smaller, don’t despair. Scientists have developed a self-cleaning cotton which could one day make washing clothes a chore of the past.
The cloth is covered in a special titanium dioxide coating which breaks down dirt and stains when exposed to sunlight.
Self- cleaning cotton has been made before, the researchers explained, but it was of limited use. It only cleaned itself when exposed to UV light, which makes up a fraction of the sun’s output.
They added nitrogen, silver and iodine to the titanium dioxide coating and found it could trigger rapid cleaning in ordinary sunlight.
After just two hours of light, an ugly orange stain had vanished from the coated fabric.
The coating remains intact after washing and drying, according to the researchers from Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China, and it worked time and again. It could mean that one day everything from sheets to socks will rarely, if ever, require washing.
Study authors Mingce Long and Deyong Wu, whose findings were published in the journal Applied Sciences and Interfaces, said: “We are developing a new cotton fabric that does clean itself of stains and bacteria when exposed to ordinary sunlight. Our fabric uses a coating made from a compound of titanium dioxide, the white material used in everything from white paint to foods to sunscreen lotions. Titanium dioxide breaks down dirt and kills microbes when exposed to some types of light.”
They added: “We used cotton fabric coated with nanoparticles made from a compound of titanium dioxide and nitrogen. Further dispersing nanoparticles composed of silver and iodine accelerates the discolouration process. The coating remains intact after washing and drying.” Titanium dioxide is already used in a wide range of items, including self- cleaning products designed for windows, tiles, sunscreen and odour- free socks.
By covering the fabric with nano-particules made from titanium dioxide and nitrogen, the researchers were able to remove an orange die stain. Adding nano-particles made from silver and iodine was found to further speed up the cleaning process.
But don’t throw away the washing powder just yet — the scientists did not say when the invention could be in shops.
Source: Mail Today