Scrubbing the surfaces could be a thing of the past after scientists discover new ‘self-cleaning’ materials
Kitchen work tops that effectively clean themselves could become a reality thanks to a new range of “smart” materials, it was revealed today.
The days of using strong detergents, smelly solvents and a lot of elbow grease to get rid of ingrained oily smears could be numbered.
Coating kitchen surfaces, or mirrors and garage floors, with the new Teflon-like materials will allow them to be wiped clean with nothing more than water.
Added to cleaning sprays, paints and sealants, the materials could also be used to produce self-cleaning floors, walls and windows.
The new material has been created by scientists at Purdue University, in Indiana, US.
Project team leader Dr Jeffrey Youngblood said: ‘You add water, and the oil just comes right off like magic.
‘These are eco-friendly coatings – environmentally ‘green’ in the sense that they eliminate the need for harsh detergents and solvents in settings ranging from home kitchens to industrial machine shops that must contend with heavy oil spills.’
The plastic coatings are about 20,000 times thinner than the width of a human hair.
They have a bottom layer which attracts water and a slippery Teflon-like upper layer that prevents the passage of oil.
The result is an oil-repellent surface that holds a film of water.
The materials could be used in household cleaners, paints, water filters, and sealants that would allow concrete floors and walls to keep themselves clean, said Dr Youngblood.
Anti-fog coatings could also be used on windows, mirrors, spectacle lenses or diving masks.
Dr Youngblood announced the research at the American Chemical Society’s annual meeting in Washington DC.
He said: ‘The idea is to use these polymers to clean in situations where it’s inconvenient to apply soap or anywhere you would need to have oil cleaned off easily.
‘Oil fouling is always a problem. A lot of people overlook the fact that pure water will generally not remove oil from a surface, but using this product transforms water into a super detergent.’
The self-cleaning coatings could be commercially available “within a few years”, he said.
Via Daily Mail