Scientists in China and Australia have developed a method of cleaning fabric using nanotechnology that avoids dunking clothes in soapy water, before scrubbing and rinsing. The titanium dioxide-based coating bonds to silk and wool and uses sunlight to automagically decompose dirt, stains and microorganisms, meaning smelly socks could be a thing of the past—something that teenage boys' moms will applaud the world over.
Anatase titanium dioxide is applied as particles just five nanometers across, and acts as a photocatalyst to break down dirt and bacteria using sunlight. The non-toxic coating creates a layer so thin that the material's texture remains the same—ie, silk still feels like silk.
Dr Walid Daoud and team of Monash University, Australia, have demoed their invention by using it to attack a red wine stain on wool (as the photo shows: the top row is untreated wool, the middle row has a stain-treating agent and the bottom row the new nanotech coating.)
So far the coating bonds to wool and silk, so it's stain- and smell-busting powers are limited to wool-sock wearers and businessmen who have frequent egg-on-tie accidents. I'm waiting for the next-gen nanotech clothes that wash, iron and hang themselves. I reckon it's my scientific curiosity—my wife thinks it's just laziness. [The Telegraph]