Microplastic fibres (MPFs) released during the laundering of synthetic textiles are one of the largest sources of microplastic pollution in oceanic environments, forming a barrier to a sustainable textile industry. Here we report a robust fabric finish for nylon, taking advantage of environmentally friendly polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) brushes, which lessens the release of MPFs by lowering friction. Tribological evaluation reveals a substantially reduced coefficient of friction for PDMS-coated nylon in both dry and wet conditions. A molecular primer based on sulfonated mercaptosilane creates strong ionic bonding between the PDMS coating and the nylon fabric to enhance wash durability. Accordingly, MPF formation can be reduced by 93 ± 2% for coated fabrics after repeated laundering. Importantly, none of the essential properties, such as hydrophobicity, surface structure and comfort of the fabrics, are compromised after washing. Low-friction fabric finishes provide a green route for the design of synthetic fabrics and could help the textile industry transition away from its current, unsustainable practices.
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The data supporting the findings of this study are available from the public repository: https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.21828543.
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We acknowledge that this work was conducted at the University of Toronto, on the traditional land of the Huron-Wendat, the Seneca and the Mississauga of the Credit. This project was supported by the Canada Foundation for Innovation, through grant no. 41543, and by the University of Toronto through the WaterSeed programme.
The authors declare no competing interests.
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Lahiri, S.K., Azimi Dijvejin, Z. & Golovin, K. Polydimethylsiloxane-coated textiles with minimized microplastic pollution. Nat Sustain (2023). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41893-022-01059-4
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