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TechLink helped the Air Force Research Laboratory to license groundbreaking technology to Alexium, Ltd., a company based in London, England. This “self-cleaning” technology uses microwaves to permanently bind silicon-containing compounds onto fabrics. The process creates fabrics that are waterproof, antibacterial, and oil-resistant. It was developed by the AFRL Materials and Manufacturing Directorate.
The Air Force developed this technology to give uniforms protection against biowarfare agents. It discovered that the “self-cleaning” process creates fabrics that resist soiling and kill bacteria that grow in sweat-permeated clothing, creating unpleasant odors. According to Jeff Owens, the Air Force inventor, “We treated T-shirts and underwear for soldiers who tested them for several weeks [in Iraq] and found that they remained hygienic as the clothing was actively killing the bacteria. They also helped clear up skin complaints in those testing them.”
Alexium plans to commercialize this technology internationally. Its initial focus is on uniforms and underwear for the US military, and sportswear for the commercial marketplace. Other diverse applications range from anti-infective wound dressings, nurses’ uniforms, and hospital bedding to air conditioning filters on planes and cruise ships.