London, June 25: Smelly socks could one day be just a nasty memory thanks to nanotechnology.
Scientists in South Korea have discovered a method of impregnating silver particles into the polypropylene widely used in textiles, which give it “excellent” antibacterial properties.
Silver has been shown to kill more than 650 disease-causing organisms and is also a safe antibacterial agent, enabling the “nanocomposite” fibres to be used as a weapon against malodorous feet. Prof Sung Jeong and Sang Yeo, his graduate student at Hanyang University, Seoul, report in the journal Polymer International how the new fibres maximise the surface area of the silver to provide an optimum antibacterial effect.
The particles are around 30 nanometres across — a nanometre is a billionth of a metre — and Prof Jeong said: “Even though they only contain a small amount of silver our new fibres have excellent antibacterial properties and the physical properties are not affected.”
“So, if we could control bacteria, we don’t have to worry about the bad smell from socks and underwear.” The pair have managed to make safe anti-microbial fibres with a range of applications, including socks, carpets, napkins and surgical masks.
Amore Pacific, a Korean cosmetics company, is already using nano silver particles in its under-arm deodorants.
The Prince of Wales recently prompted the government to launch an independent investigation into the benefits and risks of nanotechnology after he voiced fears that tiny robots could one day reduce the planet to a “grey goo”.
Prey, a novel by Michael Crichton, envisaged a world where people are taken over by pre datory nanoscale robots.