Two RMIT researchers who have designed textiles that can clean themselves in sunlight have been nominated for the world’s largest design prize, the 2017 INDEX: Award.
Dr Rajesh Ramanathan and Professor Vipul Bansal from the Ian Potter NanoBioSensing Facility have been selected as one of 56 finalists from a record-breaking 1400 nominations across 85 countries.
The INDEX: Award recognises designs across five categories that seek to improve the lives of people all over the world while tackling major global challenges like food security, climate change, disease and pollution. It is popularly referred to as the "Nobel Prize" of design.
The RMIT team were shortlisted in the "Body" category for their pioneering work growing nanostructures less than a billionth of a metre in size on textiles that can degrade organic matter when exposed to light.
The world-first work paves the way for textiles that clean themselves under a light bulb or in the sun, saving increasingly vulnerable water resources. The research is currently under consideration for a patent.
Ramanathan said that the water crisis is the number one global risk for the sustainability of our planet. Self-cleaning textiles could help solve the problem.
“A nano-smart textile technology that uses sunlight instead of water to clean our clothes will remarkably reduce our reliance on water for laundry, a huge benefit for resource-poor countries,” Ramanathan said.
Bansal said he and Ramanathan were humbled by the nomination.
“This work represents a powerful example of how technology and design can be closely integrated to improve people’s lives,” Bansal said.
“It is an honour to be shortlisted as one of the finalists in this significant prize, and to have our work’s potential positive impact for the lives of millions recognised.”
Kigge Hvid, CEO of INDEX: Design to Improve Life, the group behind the biennial award, said the finalists show how much “good news there is in the world”.
"They also demonstrate just how crucial design is for addressing the major problems of our world.”
The RMIT team is also shortlisted for a DESIGN ORBIT business acceleration program in Copenhagen to further develop their technology towards commercialisation.
Held every two years in Denmark since 2005, the INDEX: Award has received over 6100 nominations from more than 120 countries.
The 2017 winners will be unveiled on 1 September in Elsinore, Denmark, with each winner receiving €100,000 to further develop their designs.
The five winners will also be celebrated at a gala event attended by Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Mary and 1000 guests.
Story: James Giggacher