Assistant professor Juan Hinestroza and postdoctoral researcher Hong Dong from Cornell University created two types of fabric: one can prevent colds and flu and never needs washing, and another that destroys harmful gases and protects the wearer from smog and air pollution.

The “super” fabric is made by coating ordinary cotton with silver nanoparticles. First the fabric is positively charged using epoxy resins that induce positive ionization, then it gets simply dipped into a solution containing negatively charged silver particles of 10-20 nm in size that were synthesized in citric acid to hinder agglomeration. The silver particles adhere to cotton fibers creating a material that kills viruses and bacteria due to antibacterial properties of silver and thus reducing the need to wash. In addition, the small size of the particles prevents soiling and stains.

The use of palladium nanoparticles instead of silver ones, creates cotton that acts as a catalyst that’s able to accelerate oxidation of smog gases such as nitrogen oxides (NOx).

Design student Olivia Ong made a jacket using palladium coated fabric that was presented at the Cornell Design League fashion show. “We think this is one of the first times that nanotechnology has entered the fashion world,” Hinestroza commented.