Smart Textiles To Fight Mosquitoes: A New Approach

A report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) claimed mosquitoes to be the deadliest and most dangerous species on planet in terms of human deaths. In 2015, 438,000 malaria-related deaths were reported globally. The incidence of dengue has reportedly increased 30 times in the last three decades. Several countries are reporting their first outbreaks of mosquito-borne diseases such as zika, dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever.

With the ever increasing cases of resistance of mosquitoes to repellents, several groups have tried incorporating new repellents into fabrics. There have been several efforts towards designing smart textiles that can prevent mosquito bites. Microencapsulation has been commonly used. However, these methods are prone to drawbacks like non-sustainability and lack of reusability. Another approach uses microbeads, which again are costly and tedious. This restricts the use of conventional microbeads and micro-capsules for practical day-to-day applications.

The solution proposed by its research team adds the necessary advantages of in-trend micro-encapsulation technique and gets rid of their drawbacks.

The proposed idea is to use a smart textile system that incorporates a refillable mechanism that can be reloaded multiple times with mosquito repellents on the go, controllable by the user. This work demonstrates the superiority of sustainable smart textiles to be used as a platform for mosquito repellent technology.

Making use of shape memory polymers (SMPs) for this purpose, the concept is new and gives the user the advantage to control the release of repellent multiple times, depending on need. SMPs are smart textiles having a specific shape that is stored in their ‘memory’, which when subjected to external stimulus like heat, magnetic or electric field, change and return back to their ‘memory’ shape when the stimulus is removed. The patent for the same is under process.