Toggle Menu
  1. Home/
  2. Tech & Science/
  3. Innovation/

New fabric coating to revolutionize the fashion industry

A material that makes textiles oil resistant and is also environment friendly has been developed by Cornell University scientists. The new coating could revolutionize the fashion industry, as it would resist stains from vegetable oils, olive oil, and other oils.

Oleophobicity, a resistance to oil commonly applied to textiles, is the reason why pasta sauce spilled on clothes comes off when washed. The bad news is the coating that makes textiles oil resistant is fluorine-based and breaks down into chlorofluorocarbon gas, a greenhouse gas harmful to the environment. Now, scientists have found a way to create a new material that could help change the way oleophobicity is developed.

According to a press release, Emmanuel Giannelis, professor of materials science and engineering in the College of Engineering, and Jintu Fan, professor and chair of the Department of Fiber Science and Apparel Design in the College of Human Ecology submitted a patent disclosure to the Center for Technology Licensing (CTL) for the new material.

Photo: Cornell University

While Giannelis and his group were working on super-hydrophilic polymeric membranes that are used in water purification, Fan asked if they could team up and apply the work to textiles.

Postdoctoral researcher Genggeng Qi joined the team and created a polymer that combines well-known chemistry with a rough surface texture that creates little air pockets. Fluids with a high enough surface tension will ball up on this fiber and not stick, making for easy cleaning.

This roughness uses the same principle as the water-resistant quality of the lotus leaf, which has a rough nanostructure and naturally repels water.

“We’ve found that even after 30 washings, it’s still durable, which is great. Even if we can achieve (oleophobicity) even close to fluorine-based (polymers), that would be a huge breakthrough,” Jintu Fan said.

“We believe we are the first group to show that non-fluorine-based chemistry opens up the possibility to create oleophobic coatings that are probably good enough to resist stains from vegetable oils, olive oil, and other oils,” Emmanuel Giannelis added.

John Beckett