Self Cleaning Textiles
The advancement of nano technology within the textile sector has made the application of stain resistant finishes which do not negatively affect the handle, look or performance of a textile a reality. Hydrophobic and super hydrophobic functions use bio mimicry, observable in plants and certain insects, such as the pond skater and the Lotus Leaf.
Nano scale particles or whiskers coat the fibres of the fabric, trapping air in the negative spaces, thus altering the Surface Energy. This coating does not allow liquid stains to wet the surface; they sit on the air cushion created by the structures.
A self cleaning property is observed as when water comes into contact with the surface, it naturally maintains is spherical shape. Any foreign matter of dirt present on the surface then adheres more positively to the water that the textile surface ensuring the dirt is carried away with the water, the movement enabled in the structures further aides this process, allowing little or no residue to be left behind. Nanomaterials are being implemented to provide this finish on fabrics. (Video) Demonstrates Lotus Leaf affect and dirt removal.
The unique features of Titanium dioxide at nano scale provide a self cleaning feature of organic stains. A reaction occurs on absorption of UV light which begins the degradation process of organic matter such as stains. The application of Titanium Dioxide to textiles is a process widely explored in literature.