This is great news for all those who hate doing the laundry, as Australian researchers say they have developed a cheap and efficient new way to infuse fabric with tiny strands of silver which can degrade organic matter when exposed to light.
The researchers who worked with copper and silver-based nano-structures, known for their ability to absorb visible light, said what this simply means is that the fabric will clean itself when exposed to light. With this new development, just five minutes of sunshine is all it could take to get your washing done, they say.
The work by RMIT University in Melbourne, paves the way towards so-called nano-enhanced textiles that can spontaneously clean themselves. This is how it works, when the nanostructures are exposed to light, they receive an energy boost that creates ‘hot electrons’. These release a further burst of energy that enables the nano-structures to degrade organic matter. In laboratory conditions, it took less than six minutes for some to clean themselves spontaneously.
According to Dr. Rajesh Ramanathan, co-author of the study published in the Science Journal Advanced Materials Interfaces, the advantage of textiles is that they already have a 3D structure so they are great at absorbing light, which in turn speeds up the process of degrading organic matter.
Despite the breakthrough, it may be some time before clothes can be cleaned simply by being put under a light bulb or worn in the sun, Dr. Ramanathan, says.
“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 added that future tests would take place on common stains such as tomato sauce and wine.