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Carpet, clothes could soon clean themselves with light

"The advantage of textiles is they already have a 3D structure so they are great at absorbing light," said researcher Rajesh Ramanathan.
By Brooks Hays   |   March 22, 2016 at 12:07 PM

MELBOURNE, March 22 (UPI) -- Don't have time to do laundry? Just wear your dirty clothes in the sun.

It sounds like a joke, but new nanotechnology may make the technique a reality in the near future. Researchers in Australia have developed a way to integrate self-cleaning nanotechnology into textiles.

The technology is made possible by special nanostructures that break down organic matter when exposed to light. Scientists at Australia's RMIT University developed a technique for cheaply and efficiently growing these nanostructure on textiles.

The textiles are dipped in an array of solutions and within 30 minutes, nanostructures begin developing within the woven material. The nanostructures work by turning sunlight into electron energy. The energy transfer triggers a catalytic reaction that results in the degradation of organic matter.

Researchers believe the technology will pave the way for self-cleaning clothes, carpet and other textile products.

"The advantage of textiles is they already have a 3D structure so they are great at absorbing light, which in turn speeds up the process of degrading organic matter," researcher Rajesh Ramanathan said in a news release. "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."

Ramanathan and his colleagues detailed their latest research in the journal Advanced Materials Interfaces.

"Our next step will 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," Ramanathan said.

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