A Silicon Valley start up is combining nanotechnology and fashion to produce clothes that repel water and don't stain. The designers have developed a hydrophobic material that can be woven into fabric on the nano-scale, making embarrassing ketchup and beer stains a thing of the past. Ben Gruber reports.
STORY: It can't get wet and will not stain. That's the promise Aamir Patel, CEO of Silic, is making buyers of his new shirts. Unlike current waterproofing chemical agents that Patel says have been proven unsafe, the 21-year-old enterpreneur and his team have developed a process that uses silica, a natural mineral used in the production of cement, to produce clothes that are super hydrophobic. (SOUNDBITE) ( English) AAMIR PATEL, CEO, SILIC, SAYING: "On the nano-scale when we bind it to the fiber it is physically repelling hydrogen atoms. So anything that is water based is not going to be able to touch it. So what happens is that it creates a very high surface tension and with that surface tension the water molecules kind of bead up so they turn into spheres, and in that form they can roll off the shirt very easily." The company raised nearly 300,000 dollars in crowd funding efforts and Patel says the first orders will be shipping out soon. He recalls trying on his first prototype. (SOUNDBITE) (English) AAMIR PATEL, CEO, SILIC, SAYING: "The first time I did it as I spilled an entire jug of water all over my shirt and it came off dry I was mind blown. And now as I show that to more and more people it seems like it's a very, it's a repeating process of people saying 'wow' and, you know, they get this head rush of you know 'I want to put this on socks shoes pants, everything that is out there.' So I think it is a technology that is going to become very versatile." Patel is also experimenting with other materials that he says will add form and function to fashion. He believes nanotechnology has the potential to create wearable technologies that can change shape, monitor your health and eventually connect to the internet. For now, Patel says, he is content knowing that his shirts will help even the messiest eaters clean up their act.