• Even in this image of cotton textile magnified 2,300 times, the nanostructures are still invisible. Photo credit: RMIT UniversityEven in this image of cotton textile magnified 2,300 times, the nanostructures are still invisible. Photo credit: RMIT University

RMIT University develop self-cleaning textiles

Nanotechnology researchers at RMIT University have developed a textile fabric that can clean itself when exposed to light. The team has developed a cheap and efficient way by which textiles can be fused with nanostructures that are capable of degrading organic matter when exposed to light.

The new technique could pave the way for the creation of clothes that could be cleaned just by exposing them to daylight.

The technology behind the idea isn't new - the team worked with copper and silver-based nanostructures, which create 'hot electrons' when exposed to light. These electrons then release energy, which enables the nanostructures to degrade organic matter. However, previously these nanostructures have only been created on a small scale in costly and time-consuming processes.

The RMIT team has found a much easier and cost effective way of creating them - by growing the nanostructures directly onto textiles. The team achieved this by dipping the textiles into a series of different solutions, which enabled them to grow stable nanostructures on them within 30 minutes.

When exposed to light some of these treated materials were able to spontaneously clean themselves in around 6 minutes. Unfortunately, the university's Dr Rajesh Ramanathan says there is much more work to do before the textiles may become commercially available, although the next step for the team is to start testing the materials with some of the organic compounds that will be relevant to consumers, such as wine and tomato sauce.

You can read more about RMIT University on their profile here.

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