Self-cleaning fabrics could revolutionize the sport apparel industry. The technology, created by scientists working for the U.S. Air Force, has already been used to create t-shirts and underwear that can be worn hygenically for weeks without washing.
The new technology attaches nanoparticles to clothing fibers using microwaves. Then, chemicals that can repel water, oil and bacteria are directly bound to the nanoparticles. These two elements combine to create a protective coating on the fibers of the material.
This coating both kills bacteria, and forces liquids to bead and run off.
The U.S. military spent more than $20 million to develop the fabric, deriving from research originally intended to protect soldiers from biological weapons.
Jeff Owens, one of the scientists who worked to develop the process, said, "During Desert Storm, most casualties were from bacterial infections—not accidents or friendly fire. We treated underwear for soldiers who tested them for several weeks and found they remained hygienic. They also helped clear up some skin complaints."
British news organizations pointed out that an earlier reference to the general idea of clothes that never got dirty can be found in the 1951 film "The Man in the White Suit." Sci-fi fans can console themselves with the fact that the lead role was played by Alec Guiness, who of course played Obiwan Kenobi in the original Star Wars films.
Don't miss these other futuristic clothing advances:
- Fabrican - spray-on clothing
- Chameleon T-Shirts With Electrochromic Polymers
- Carbon Nanofiber Makes Smart Yarn
Read more about the fabric here.
(This Science Fiction in the News story used with permission from Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction.)
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