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The Warsaw Voice » Other » June 17, 2009
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Titanium Technology
June 17, 2009   
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Researchers at the Institute of Inorganic Chemistry in the southern city of Gliwice have developed a titanium-based impregnating agent that gives fibers and fabrics antibacterial and self-cleaning properties. The researchers also developed the related impregnation technology, which earned them a silver medal at the latest World Exhibition of Innovation, Research and New Technologies in Brussels.

"Our research was inspired by reports about self-cleaning surfaces such as windowpanes, car windshields and ceramic tiles coated with nano-titanium dioxide," says Marta Stechman, M.Sc. (Eng.), who headed the team of researchers working on the impregnating agent.

Titanium dioxide has strong antibacterial and deodorizing properties. But to activate these properties fabrics impregnated with titanium dioxide have to be exposed to visible light.

The essence of the invention is that nano-titanium dioxide is produced directly on the surface of fibers or fabrics. The nanolayer obtained in this process is permanently bound with the underlying surface. The process involves saturating fabrics with substances containing titanium compounds. These substances produce a nanolayer as a result of a chemical reaction on the surface of the fabric. It is important that the nanolayer does not change the appearance of the fabric and does not come off the fabric. Research has shown that fabrics impregnated in this way can be washed many times without any damage to the titanium dioxide coatings.

Stechman's team at the institute's Department of Inorganic Products and Analytical Chemistry worked for two years to develop the technology. In 2008, the researchers applied for a patent on their technology.

The technology is ready for application. The institute is conducting an advertising campaign hoping to find a producer soon. Fabrics impregnated with nano-titanium dioxide can be used to make ordinary clothes. "Their effect can be compared with that of fabrics coated with nanosilver," says Stechman. "Their deodorizing, antibacterial and dirt-resistance properties are similar." But they may differ in price. Fabrics impregnated with titanium dioxide will certainly be much cheaper and their use may be widespread as a result, Stechman says, adding that the technology can be modified to meet specific user needs.

Ewa Dereñ
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