Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


’Self-cleaning’ suits may be in your future


Sending your favorite suit to the dry cleaners could one day become an infrequent practice. Researchers at Clemson University are developing a highly water-repellant coating made of silver nanoparticles that they say can be used to produce suits and other clothing items that offer superior resistance to dirt as well as water and require much less cleaning than conventional fabrics.

The patented coating — a polymer film (polyglycidyl methacrylate) mixed with silver nanoparticles — can be permanently integrated into any common fabric, including silk, polyester and cotton, the researchers say. In the long run, it can save time and money by reducing expensive dry cleaning bills. It is also environmentally friendly, they add.

The researchers described their work on the so-called “self-cleaning” coating last week during the 56th Southeast Regional Meeting of the American Chemical Society, the world’s largest scientific society, held in Research Triangle Park, N.C. “The coating doesn’t actually clean itself, but it does resist dirt much better than other fabric treatments,” explains research team member Phil Brown, Ph.D., a textile chemist with Clemson University in Clemson, S.C. “The concept is based on the lotus plant, whose leaves are well-known for their ability to ‘self-clean’ by repelling water and dirt. Likewise, when water is exposed to the treated fabric, the dirt will be carried away more easily. You will still need some water to rinse away dirt and stains, but cleaning will be quicker and less frequent.”

Unlike conventional water-repellant coatings, the new coating, which doesn’t yet have an official name, is permanently bonded onto the fibers of the fabric and will not wash off, Brown says. In addition, no fluorine-based chemical finishes are used so there are potential environmental advantages, according to the researcher. The research team is also trying to engineer antimicrobial particles into the coating, which could help repel strong odors such as body odor and even cigarette smoke, they say.

Dirt adheres to the fibers of most fabrics. To clean the fabrics, people typically put them in the washer or send them to the dry cleaners. But the water-repellency of fabrics made with the new coating is superior and makes it easier to keep dirt from accumulating, Brown says, because water that is applied to the garment rolls off and takes the dirt with it. Suits made with the new coating could simply be sprayed clean or wiped with a damp cloth to remove the dirt, the researcher says. If desired, the fabric can still be cleaned by conventional means, including washing as well as dry cleaning, without harming the coating, he notes.

In addition to suits, the new coating could be applied to hospital garments, sportswear, military uniforms and rain coats. Other possible applications include awning material for outdoor campers, fabrics for lawn furniture and convertible tops for cars. The coating could appear in consumer products within five years, the researcher estimates.

Prices of clothing and other products treated with the new coating will initially be a bit more expensive than other water-repellant garments, Brown predicts. But he and his associates are currently working on ways to make the coating cheaper.

Self-cleaning fabrics can be made in any color, according to Brown, since the treatment is applied after the fabric has been dyed. If you’re concerned that clothes coated with the silver nanoparticles will activate an alarm at an airport security stop, don’t worry. The material is unlikely to be detected by conventional metal detectors, he says.

Other researchers involved in the project include team leader Igor Luzinov, Ph.D., a polymer scientist, and George Chumanov, Ph.D., a physical chemist, of Clemson; and Sergiy Minko, Ph.D., a polymer scientist with Clarkson University in Potsdam, N.Y.

The National Textile Center, a research consortium of eight universities, provided funding for this study from a grant administered by the U.S. Department of Commerce.

The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization, chartered by the U.S. Congress, with a multidisciplinary membership of more than 159,000 chemists and chemical engineers. It publishes numerous scientific journals and databases, convenes major research conferences and provides educational, science policy and career programs in chemistry. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio. — Mark T. Sampson

Michael Bernstein | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Materials Sciences:

nachricht From ancient fossils to future cars
21.10.2016 | University of California - Riverside

nachricht Study explains strength gap between graphene, carbon fiber
20.10.2016 | Rice University

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>