By Cameron Chai
Scientists have developed a new fabric coating that can actively shrug off dirt, acids, grease and other filthy matter. During testing they found that it had more water-repellent properties than Teflon or car wax.
The study was performed by Tong Lin and colleagues. They report that the "layer-by-layer" (LbL) method for self-assembly was used for producing coatings and films for various products including drug-delivery devices and sensors.
In the LbL process, alternate layers of charged materials – both positive and negative are set down. Electric charges are used to hold the layers together. By choosing the type of composition of the individual layers, the coatings can be specifically designed for the specific applications. Due to instability these layers split apart.
The researchers set out to find a method to stabilize these layers. They utilized UV light and formed a "superhydrophobic" coating, which has the ability to repel material using natural forces.
During the tests the coating was applied to cotton fabric. It demonstrated the ability to repel acids, bases, organic solvents and water. The coating was durable as it was able to withstand numerous washes in a machine. When multiple layers were added it demonstrated a 154° contract angle, which was higher than Teflon’s 95° contract angle.
This coating may provide effective stain-resistance for fabrics. The study was published in Langmuir, an ACS journal.