At the end of a sticky summer, your lawn furniture's going to be gross with mold, algae, moss, fungi, or other bacterial yuck. You get to go in and take a shower after a day in the sun, but your furniture just festers. Unless it's made with titanium dioxide, as these German researchers discovered.
Scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology in Germany are experimenting with covering lawn furniture and other surfaces with a photocatalyitic coating of titanium dioxide. These molecules are "activated" by UV light, causing them to go after organic molecules with a chemical fury. The release from the institute explains:
They act as a kind of catalyst, triggering an electrochemical reaction which produces free radicals. These and other active molecules strike a fatal blow to bacteria, fungi and similar organisms, first destroying the cell walls and then penetrating the cytoplasm – the substance that fills the cell – and damaging the bacteria's DNA. As a result, the organic substances are destroyed instead of remaining stuck to the surface.
And it works. In one test furniture using the coating was still clean after two years outside.
Beyond keeping your outdoor recliner free of bacteria, titanium oxide coatings are being developed to keep building facades and glass surfaces clean. The researchers say that the next step is to develop coatings that can be activated by artificial light and to compare notes with other teams to see what works and what doesn't. WAIT JUST ONE SECOND! What about the awesome lawn furniture for lazy people? Sadly, there's no word on when we might actually see it. [Fraunhofer Institute via Discovery]