Nanostructures grown on textiles taking us closer to practical self-cleaning clothing

03/24/2016 - 15:01

A spot of sunshine is all it could take to get your washing done, thanks to pioneering nano research into self-cleaning textiles at RMIT University.

Researchers have developed a cheap and efficient new way to grow special nanostructures – which can degrade organic matter when exposed to light – directly onto textiles.

The work paves the way towards nano-enhanced textiles that can spontaneously clean themselves of stains and grime simply by being put under a light bulb or worn out in the sun.


Ref: Robust Nanostructured Silver and Copper Fabrics with Localized Surface Plasmon Resonance Property for Effective Visible Light Induced Reductive Catalysis. Advanced Materials Interfaces (23 March 2016) | DOI: 10.1002/admi.201500632


Inspired by high porosity, absorbency, wettability, and hierarchical ordering on the micrometer and nanometer scale of cotton fabrics, a facile strategy is developed to coat visible light active metal nanostructures of copper and silver on cotton fabric substrates. The fabrication of nanostructured Ag and Cu onto interwoven threads of a cotton fabric by electroless deposition creates metal nanostructures that show a localized surface plasmon resonance (LSPR) effect. The micro/nanoscale hierarchical ordering of the cotton fabrics allows access to catalytically active sites to participate in heterogeneous catalysis with high efficiency. The ability of metals to absorb visible light through LSPR further enhances the catalytic reaction rates under photoexcitation conditions. Understanding the modes of electron transfer during visible light illumination in Ag@Cotton and Cu@Cotton through electrochemical measurements provides mechanistic evidence on the influence of light in promoting electron transfer during heterogeneous catalysis for the first time. The outcomes presented in this work will be helpful in designing new multifunctional fabrics with the ability to absorb visible light and thereby enhance light-activated catalytic processes.