Photo by Jasleen Kaur
Sure, we’ve heard of stain-resistant fabrics, but what about fabrics that actively fight germs and toxic chemicals? Scientists at UC Davis in California have developed a self-cleaning cotton that kills bacteria and breaks down pesticide residues when exposed to light. Ning Liu, a doctoral student in Gang Sun’s group in the Division of Textiles and Clothing, managed to bind a compound known as 2-anthraquinone carboxylic acid (2-AQC) to cellulose in cotton. Exposing the fabric to light triggers the release of reactive agents such as hydroxyl radicals and hydrogen peroxide, putting the kibosh on any lingering germs or organic compounds.
Photo by Thomas Clavirole
Unlike current self-cleaning chemicals, Liu’s breakthrough doesn’t wash off easily. More important, it doesn’t affect the properties of the fabric. At present, 2-AQC is more expensive than other compounds, but the researchers say that cheaper equivalents are available.
Self-cleaning textiles could have a wide variety of applications, particularly in the healthcare and medical industries.
Self-cleaning textiles have a wide variety of potential applications, particularly in the healthcare and medical industries. They could also be incorporated into protective clothing for military personnel, first responders, farmers, and food processors who are exposed to biological and chemical agents.