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When clothes clean themselves...

  • 4-19-2012

When clothes clean themselves...

How can a textile clean itself? How can tiny little robots moving in the bloodstream be revolutionary devices of curing? The atoms forming the world, which are controlled by scientists in a special way, make all this possible.

If you would look at the world with a magnifier, you would be truly amazed what is going on in the world of nanoparticles, which is ten times smaller than a single hair. This miniature realm offers opportunities that change the daily routine. The complex science of nanotechnology tries to exploit these possibilities.

Nanotechnology on future catwalks

Textiles, which are simply unable to become dirty, may be marketed in the near future. Developing innovative chemical industry products, the German BASF company “copied” the self-cleaning mechanism of the lotus flower and the reed, and invented a finishing material which being put onto textiles keeps water and dirt away. On the plants ultra-fine surface structures do the “self-cleaning”: as soon as they are exposed to water, the tiny water drops roll off the plant’s leaves and wash away microscopic particles of dirt and dust. The finishing material named Mincor® TX TT is predestined to imitate this. On textiles particles with a diameter of less than 100 nanometres emerge and repel dirt.

A similar revolutionary innovation of BASF is the 100% waterproof textile, which will mainly be used as a material of shoes, tents, sport jackets and car seats. A single square meter of the air-permeable textile, called Luquafleece®, can absorb up to 26 litres of water. In dry surroundings tiny holes of the loose structured polymer provide full ventilation, but when exposed to water the fabric absorbs water like a molecular sponge. Back in dry surroundings, the water absorbed by the particles evaporates and the pores reopen allowing the air to circulate freely again.

Not only comfort function but life-saving role may be attributed to special textiles. Researchers are working on such e-textiles which show if the person, who is wearing it, is ill. The fabric covered with electrolyte, carbon nanotubes and proper antibodies is able to detect the presence of proteins in the blood, through which it is able to show the spread of illnesses and watch fundamental signs of life.

„Nano” materials will bring changes not only into fashion, but in automotive and building industry as well. Several of these new features have already been included in the Smart Forvision concept car too, which becomes real due to the joint development of Daimler and BASF. For example instead of conventional seat heating, fabrics with thermal conductive nanocoatings are used in the futuristic quadricycle, and a new kind of infrared-reflective film was applied in the windscreen and side windows, protecting the car interior from the unpleasant heating up. In the building industry more nanotechnologic materials are used to create more efficient insulations and self-cleaning surfaces.

Watch our video about heat preserving solutions of the smart forvision car:

Nanorobots in the human body

Nano-sized devices are at the brink of revolutionizing the medical world. Tiny nanorobots created by scientists are able to cure inside the body. Due to their miniature size they are useful in curing diseases, which can not be accessed easily such as tumours, blood clots, kidney stones or stenosis.

Nanorobots slip into the blood stream, where a motor driven by an electromagnetic field directs them to the target. But how are they navigated to the proper direction? The tiny machines ”orient themselves” with ultrasonic and radio signal sensors or they use X-ray and radioactive devices. The abnormal or ill cells can be destroyed by the nanorobot using microwaves, ultrasounds, heat or chemical agents.

Did you know?

The smallest scissor of the world

Japanese scientists have created the world's smallest "scissors," which is only three nanometres or billionth of a meter in size. With the mini cutting tool genes, proteins and other special polymers of our body can be modified. The scissor can be directed with light beams.