Self-cleaning fabric in action

IOM3
,
27 Apr 2012

Water-repellent coatings that can make fabrics self-cleaning have been in development for a number of years, but a recent paper published in the journal Langmuir has demonstrated how they can be improved using multiple layers treated with UV light.

The technique makes the layers bond more strongly to cotton and to each other, creating a super-hydrophobic surface that prevents both water and dirt from sticking to it. BBC News currently has a video of a water droplet being repelled by the coating-covered fabric.

The Institute has covered self-cleaning fabrics before, last year engineers at two Chinese universities developed a type of cotton that could exlclude dirt in response to UV light. The system, which makes use of titanium dioxide, has also been used in pollutant-removing paints.

Newly developed super-hydrophobic materials such as those in self cleaning fabrics have also taken inspiration from the natural world, with gecko feet inspiring incredibly strong adhesives. 

Further information

BBC News: Stain-shedding coating gets tough

Durable Superhydrophobic Coating on Cotton Fabrics, Zhao et al, 2012

Gecko-inspired sticky tape

Clothes that clean themselves in response to sunlight