Chemists have devised a better method of coating fabrics with a water-repellent, “self-cleaning” coating.
The trick was to engineer a multi-layered coating whose layers, when struck with UV light, bond more firmly to each other and to cotton.
The technique also may also be put to use in medical antibacterial coatings.
Super-hydrophobic surfaces have fascinated scientists for years; they are behind the lotus plant’s self-cleaning leaves and the gecko’s super-dry and thus super-sticky feet.
These surfaces are practically impossible to wet – water beads on them and dirt and particulates do not stick to them, leading to the self-cleaning description.
Chemists looking for the next best thing in clothing coatings have tried several tricks in recent years to create a coating with similar properties in the laboratory.
The new work hinges on what is known as layer-by-layer self-assembly – basically dipping a fabric into a solution over and over again to deposit multiple layers on it.
The team from the Australian Future Fibres Research and Innovation Centre at Deakin University made their solution with tiny particles of silica – the same material as sand.
Crucially, they added a few chemical steps to coat the particles with long chemical tails ending in what are known as azido groups.
via BBC – Jason Palmerᔥ
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