Kitchen work tops and mirrors that effectively clean themselves could become reality thanks a new range of “smart” materials, according to scientists.
Coating the surfaces with the new materials allows them to be wiped clean with nothing more than water, rather than detergents and solvents.
The materials could also soon be used to produce self-cleaning floors, walls and windows.
“You add water, and the oil just comes right off like magic,” said Dr Jeffrey Youngblood, the project team leader from Purdue University in Indiana, US.
“These are eco-friendly coatings – environmentally ‘green’ in the sense that they eliminate the need for harsh detergents and solvents in settings ranging from home kitchens to industrial machine shops that must contend with heavy oil spills.”
The plastic coatings have a bottom layer which attracts water and a Teflon-like upper layer that prevents the passage of oil.
The result is an oil-repellent surface that holds a film of water.
The materials could be used in household cleaners, paints, water filters, and sealants that would allow concrete floors and walls to keep themselves clean, said Dr Youngblood.