By – Meenakshi Mahadevan
Clothes getting cleaned of stains just by exposure to sunlight! Does that sound possible at all? Well, it has just been made possible by a team of RMIT scientists led by a 33-year-old Indian origin scientist – Dr Rajesh Ramanathan, from the Nano biotechnology Labs. This latest research is on nano-enhanced textiles that can spontaneously clean themselves of stains by simply putting them under sunlight or even a light bulb.
According to Science Daily the leading research publication, the RMIT team’s novel approach was to grow the nanostructures directly onto the textiles by dipping them into a few solutions, resulting in the development of stable nanostructures within 30 minutes. When exposed to light, it took less than six minutes for some of the nano-enhanced textiles to spontaneously clean themselves.
“Our next step will be to test our nano-enhanced textiles with organic compounds that could be more relevant to consumers, to see how quickly they can handle common stains like tomato sauce or wine,” Ramanathan said.
The Indian Telegraph caught up with Dr Ramanathan to know more on the pioneering study.
Q: How did you think of exploring this line of research?
Dr Ramanathan: We were exploring all options with respect to light when we thought of the military and the need to survive in conditions with very less water. Then of course, there are also so many countries where water is a privilege. We decided textiles could be a good industry to look at and it took us 3-4 years of research before finally achieving what we wanted.
Q: How does this work? And is it going to be affordable by everyone?
Dr Ramanathan: It’s a very simple theory. Any light absorbed by a nano-enhanced textile will act as the degradation agent and degrade the dirt from the surface thus cleaning it. As for affordability, if the textile industry as a whole accepts this research, there would at best be just a $2 difference in price. However, if it is not accepted on a large scale basis, it may not be feasible for us to continue.
Q: How important is this research to you?
Dr Ramanathan: Anything that can help the community in any way is always close to my heart. I have been part of several such researches across other areas of specialisation. But this one has garnered a lot of commercial interest.
Q: Tell us a little about your background.
Dr Ramanathan: I come from a humble family in Mumbai. I didn’t have a very research oriented mind. In fact, I did a completely unrelated Bachelors and Master’s degree. But it was only during my PhD that I got exposed to good mentorship in the right direction that changed things for the best. But even then I was very clear in wanting to be able to work across multi-disciplinary areas. I feel that’s what Science lacks – all-round scientists.
Q: And finally, who is Dr Ramanathan if not in the lab?
Dr Ramanathan: (smiles) I used to be part of a rock band during my college times in India and even performed gigs. Our band was called Exodus and I played the guitars and the table. But that was long ago. Now, I love staying in bed on my day off. I unwind with some Indian Carnatic music or listen to my favourite Mohammad Rafi. I also love biking, cooking and watching an occasional sport. Oh and to just keep some part of my old life alive, I write poems. In fact, I have written at least 50-60 so far.
The Indian Telegraph congratulates Dr. Rajesh Ramanathan and the RMIT team behind the pioneering research which will pave way in significant breakthrough in textile technology.
The Indian Telegraph Sydney Australia