Researchers at Monash University, in Victoria, Australia, have found a way to coat fibers with titanium dioxide nanocrystals, which break down food and dirt in sunlight. The researchers, led by organic chemist and nanomaterials researcher Walid Daoud, have made natural fibers such as wool, silk, and hemp that will automatically remove food, grime, and even red-wine stains when exposed to sunlight.
Daoud says that “self-cleaning property will become a standard feature of future textiles.” For more, see the full article at MIT’s Technology Review.
It is interesting to note that titanium dioxide is used conventionally as a white dye/pigment. Its application as a self-cleaning photocatalyst is known in other materials such as glass. this is the first application on textile materials. This method of “self-cleaning” is different from previous attempts that neutralize bacteria using silver-based coatings or that improve soil and stain resistance with Teflon-based coatings. Imagine only having to hang your clothes in your closest while they clean themselves waiting for their next use!