Technology No more washing: new research paves the way for self-cleaning textiles

No more washing: new research paves the way for self-cleaning textiles

Researchers at RMIT University in Melbourne have developed a cheap and efficient way to grow special nanostructures, which can degrade organic matter when exposed to light directly onto textiles.

The ultimate goal of the nano research is to open the door to textiles that can spontaneously clean themselves of stains and grime simply by being put under a light bulb or worn out in the sun.

According to Dr. Rajesh Ramanathan, textiles already have a 3D structure that makes them great at absorbing light and speeds up the process of degrading organic matter.

When the nanostructures are exposed to light, they receive an energy boost that creates ‘hot electrons’. These ‘hot electrons’ release a burst of energy that enables the nanostructures to degrade organic matter.

The RMIT team’s 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.

Dr. Ramanathan said the next step would be to test our nano-enhanced textiles with organic compounds that could be more relevant to consumers, to see how quickly they can handle common stains like tomato sauce or wine.

“There’s more work to do to 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,” he concludes.

Read more here: RMIT University.