FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Monday, September 27, 2004

"Nanocarpet" Changes Color, Kills Bacteria

As reported in KurzweilAI.net and Technology Trends, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh have created uniform nanotubes that can be woven into carpet. This "nanocarpet" can be made sensitive to outside agents, allowing it to sense and kill bacteria, and to change color when exposed to certain substances.

(Top) Magnified nanotubes. (Bottom) Nanotubes attacking an E. coli bacterium.
View more pictures here.

Such carpeting would be useful in environments that demand exceptional cleanliness, such as hospitals and homes of people with immune deficiencies, or high-security areas as an early-warning system for bioterrorist attack. It would also be interesting to couple nanocarpet with pressure-sensitive robotic "skin" that detects pressure through a grid of sensors. Could a nanocarpet be engineered to clean itself, to dry itself, to change colors along with decor, and even to repair itself?

Also, from Beverly Tang's reBlog, this same team is working to develop "nano-paint" with similar color-change and antiseptic properties.