Case Number 106010 - Advanced Textiles and Smart Cleaning Devices
Contact: Geoffrey Pinski
Description: Dr. Jason Heikenfeld and his Novel Devices Laboratory have created a new way of cleaning up your messes. UC has modified standard textiles and utilized them to create a new cleaning device. The textile takes advantage of a surface phenomenon commonly referred to as electrowetting. Electrowetting is the modification of the wetting properties of a hydrophobic surface with an applied electric field.
Current cleaning devices on the market (e.g., the P&G(r) Swiffer(r) WetJet(r) and the Clorox(r) ReadyMop(r)) use an absorbent material and a wicking material to remove liquid; with the wicking material drawing the liquid to be stored in the absorbent material. The wicking material is always capable of removing liquid and therefore is always wet to the touch. In addition the amount of liquid that the absorbent material is capable of holding is limited.
Our invention on the other hand is not wet to the touch and can have a large reservoir. Because the surface of the textile is hydrophobic in its inactive state, water is repelled from the surface. It’s only when an electric field is applied does the surface attract water (i.e. becomes hydrophilic). Provided there is no electric field being applied the surface will remain dry. And the applied electric field necessary can be supplied by a watch battery. Since our system is active and unlike the competing devices the only limitation to the amount of liquid removed is the reservoir where the liquid is stored. in theory we can pump approximately 10 liters of liquid from the power of a single AA battery.
Other possible implementations of this invention include being used as a liquid dispersal agent and for removing liquid from the skin. By using a series of reservoirs and electrowetting textiles coupled in parallel liquid can be sprayed utilizing our textiles. Since the textiles will draw liquid from any surface, this could easily include human skin.
US Patent Appliation Serial No. 11/464,988, Electrofluidic textiles and cleaning implements using such electrofluidic textiles