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New Coating on Cloth Makes It Self-Cleaning When Exposed to Light

Credit: Andy Fell/UC Davis

“Tossing clothes into the wash when dirty is so last year, thanks to a discovery by chemists out of the University of California at Davis. Near-ordinary cotton may simply need be exposed to light to get busy killing bacteria and breaking down toxic chemicals such as pesticide residues.

Ning Liu, a doctoral student at UC Davis, worked with textile chemists Gang Sun and Jing Zhu to develop a method that incorporates a compound (2-AQC) into cotton fabrics. When exposed to light, it produces reactive oxygen species such as hydrogen peroxide that kill bacteria and break down toxins.

While Liu says 2-AQC is more expensive than other compounds, it is difficult to remove from cotton due to strong bonding, and cheaper equivalents should work, too.”

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