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New Materials Roundup

December 23, 2011

New fabric coatings could allow clothes to clean and disinfect themselves simply by hanging out in the sun.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):

Self-cleaning jeans…I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Cotton fabrics coated with a new compound made of titanium dioxide, nitrogen and silver iodide clean and deodorize themselves when exposed to sunlight, according to researchers in China. Earlier self-cleaning fabrics had to be exposed to strong ultraviolet light, but these materials clean and disinfect themselves just hanging on a clothesline. The coating even eliminated bright orange dye stains. And the coating stays on the fabric even if you do wash your clothes the old fashioned way.

In other new material news, rubber trees make latex rubber out of sugars produced during photosynthesis. Now Goodyear and Michelin are trying to make rubber out of sugar, too, using genetically engineered microbes. They’ve already made prototype tires from the rubber. They hope that using sugar as a raw material for their tires, rather than petroleum or natural rubber, will shield them from price fluctuations and shortages. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.