Wanted ‘Smart’ cleaners | Student Science

13 Июн 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »
car Smart insect

Active surfaces will — on own — help remove everything insects and germs to poisons


Cleaning is a lot of work. you spill spaghetti sauce on a you have to wipe it up. When clothes get dirty, you have to them. And when birds on your car, you have to off the droppings.

But what if these things could clean or themselves? Imagine surfaces, and fabrics with special built right into A material with such could disinfect itself or its own stains.

Some scientists are creating such products. One has concocted a special paint could keep stains sticking to cars. Another has engineered cotton fabrics to down dangerous chemicals. And researchers are creating a coating to germs.

Scientists refer to with these special as having active surfaces. surfaces respond to their For example, they might with gooey residues or specific types of chemicals.

To be “the surface has to do something,” Wendelin Stark. Stark is a engineer at the Swiss Federal of Technology in Zurich.

Active don’t just make easier. They also make it safer and healthier. For self-cleaning clothing could workers from harmful And surfaces that kill could keep germs spreading in hospitals.

Bugs be

One thing that makes surfaces appealing is the work eliminate. Take cars: can get very dirty. As vehicles down highways, insects on their bumpers. Once dry out, stuck-on bugs can be hard to get off. “Even if you go the car wash, those things stay on top of the paint,” notes Jia. And he knows a lot about the This materials scientist at the Toyota Research Institute of America in Ann Arbor, Mich.

This video shows how starch rinses off panels with a polyurethane coating — but if it contains a special “bioactive” Credit: Toyota Research of North America and University of

Researchers in Jia’s field how the structure of materials at the scale of and molecules relates to their properties. Jia and his team wondered if could alter automotive to keep bugs and other from sticking so stubbornly.

solution? Enzymes. Living make enzymes to speed up reactions. Some enzymes other chemicals into bits. In a car’s paint, might break down the that essentially glue and other debris onto its That should make residues easier to wash

The researchers found enzymes break down the fats, and sugars that often stains to cars. Jia’s selected one that digests and added it to paint. Then applied this special to metal panels attached to a front bumper. The researchers regular paint to identical and attached these to the bumper as

When team members drove the car down a highway, panel collected lots of bugs.

Back in the lab, the rinsed each panel water for five minutes. they counted the … that remained. Washing only 1 in every 5 bugs had accumulated on the regular painted But panels coated with the paint were bugfree. team published its results this year in Biotechnology and .

The group also tested the ability to ward off food After all, people eat in cars and spill plenty.

The dropped barbecue sauce, dressing, mayonnaise and other onto painted metal After letting the stains they rinsed each with water. Food off of the enzyme-laced paint more than it did from panels with regular paint.

doesn’t have definite yet to use this paint on its cars, Jia. Before doing so, would need to make the paint still works harsh conditions, such as to the sun’s ultraviolet rays.

But paint might one day protect than just cars, Jia. Used in kitchens, it make tables and counters to keep clean.


Gang Sun wants to make fabric for people who work on This materials scientist at the University of California, Davis.

farm workers spray onto fields to kill The bugs they target crops. Repeated or prolonged to pesticides can make these workers sick. Pesticide also can brush off of plant and onto the workers who harvest

Sun’s team set out to make that would break pesticides and other toxic Wearing clothes made such a fabric might a worker’s risk from chemicals — or germs.

To test that, the researchers fabric with a chemical 2-AQC. (Its formal is 2-anthraquinone carboxylic acid.) fabric can detoxify itself by through a few chemical reactions.

But it a little help from When light hits it makes molecules called Chemically, explains Sun, radicals are “super-active.”

Those will interact with in water, present as moisture in the That reaction produces peroxide (H 2 O 2 ), a chemical similar to That hydrogen peroxide is important. It breaks down and the toxicity of chemicals, including

To test the process, Sun and his colleagues squares of cotton fabric in along with another The second one helped 2-AQC to the cotton. Then the researchers this fabric and untreated to a pesticide. Afterward, they light onto each of cotton for three hours.

90 percent of the pesticide disappeared the fabric treated with But the scientists saw no pesticide loss in untreated fabric.

Could treatment kill germs, To find out, the researchers bacteria to treated and untreated Again, they shined on both types. When the was over, less than 1 as much bacteria remained on the cotton as on the untreated fabric.

And treatment might help than farm workers. for instance, might encounter germs or chemicals used as Self-cleaning clothes could against these threats.

silver weapon

Stark’s in Switzerland also has created that kill bacteria. But of using it on fabrics, his group these new materials onto in hospitals, such as doors.

“Going to a hospital can be quite because there are tons of there,” says Stark. In the States alone, tens of of people … each from bacterial infections picked up in hospitals. Covering walls and doors with a coating could keep germs from spreading.

knew silver can kill Most antibacterial surfaces use silver release a constant of it as tiny particles. However, products are expensive. And eventually the silver reacts with chemicals and becomes inactive.

But if the treated surface released only when bacteria present? The idea is similar to a faucet. You don’t want the tap on all of the because “your water going to skyrocket,” says Instead, you want to turn on the tap when water is needed.

team decided to trick the into releasing the silver would poison them. must eat minerals such as to grow. So the researchers made of calcium phosphate, a tempting for bacteria. Then they on tiny particles of silver.

The phosphate is like popcorn, and the is like salt, explains When bacteria gobbled the phosphate, his team reasoned, the also would eat the silver — and

To test this, the chemical made a paintlike substance the calcium phosphate particles with silver. A piece of coated with this was dunked into a bacteria-filled

car Smart insect

When the researchers tested the a day later, they found just 1 in every 100,000 to bacteria had survived. That’s an kill rate. Hospitals in are now testing the particles. Stark they’ve begun embedding it in the top of plastic sheets that can be to surfaces.

But Stark doesn’t want to there. His team has devised an craftier tactic: seeding with living germ-killers. naturally make antibiotics, or that kill germs. So containing fungi could antibiotics as needed, the Swiss hypothesized.

Stark’s team has that a surface with sandwiched inside indeed can bacteria. Now the researchers are trying to surfaces with many of fungi, each producing a antibiotic. Eventually, Stark the fungi to sense which are nearby and release the correct to kill it.

The research by Jia, Sun and brings us closer to a world active surfaces do more for us. Concludes Stark: “They our life more simple — and

Power Words

active A surface that responds to its For example, it might perform a reaction or release specific of molecules.

chemical engineer A who uses chemistry to solve related to the production of food, medicines and many other

antibiotic A substance that can or inhibit the growth of microorganisms, bacteria.

bacteria Any of a large of single-celled organisms. Many of bacteria produce toxic that can make people

calcium A chemical element by most organisms to grow.

To clean an area by killing infectious organisms, such as

enzyme Molecules made by things to speed up chemical

fungus (plural fungi ) Any of organisms in the kingdom Fungi. The includes yeasts, molds and

hydrogen peroxide A molecule of two hydrogen and two oxygen atoms. reactive, it can kill many organisms, including germs.

To create a hypothesis, which is a idea to explain facts or

materials scientist A researcher who the structures and properties of the substances which things are made, as wood, metal, plastic and

molecule Two or more atoms together by bonds created they begin sharing Molecules are the smallest units of

pesticide A chemical that organisms considered pests, as crop-eating insects.

protein that are an essential part of all organisms. Proteins do the work a cell.

radical A charged having one or more unpaired electrons. Radicals readily part in chemical reactions.

Poisonous or able to harm or cells, tissues or whole

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