Fabric that releases a lemony aroma could help end the scourge of sweaty gym clothes

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Sweaty clothing which gives off a nasty niff could soon be a thing of the past thanks to a new breakthrough by experts.

In a revolutionary move, researchers have invented fabric which releases its own citrus fragrance to combat unsavoury smells.

Hot summer weather, stressful situations and intense workouts in the gym are all known to produce unpleasant sweaty odours.

But now clothing could cover up these embarrassing smells with a burst of fragrance.

For the first time researchers have modified cotton fabric to emit a lemon citronella aroma upon contact with sweat.

In recent years, scientists have developed smart fabrics that react to stimuli such as light, temperature or mechanical stress and respond in certain ways, such as by changing colour or conducting an electrical signal.

Researchers have also explored different methods to release fragrances from fabrics.

Biological engineers from the University of Minho in Portugal have made cotton fabric which produces citronellol, a lemongrass-derived scent used in some insect repellents, in response to sweat.

The first approach involved an odorant-binding protein found in pigs’ noses that binds to citronellol and other scent molecules.

To the odorant binding protein, the researchers attached a carbohydrate-binding module that binds to cotton.

In a second experiment the researchers packaged the fragrance in liposomes that attached to the fabric.

The team exposed the modified cotton fabrics to an acidic sweat solution and the low pH of the simulated perspiration caused the odorant-binding protein and liposomes to release citronellol.

They discovered that the protein gave off a quick burst of scent, while the liposomes produced a slower, controlled release. 

Such strategies could prove useful for different clothing applications, the researchers say.

The findings are detailed in the science journal Applied Materials & Interfaces, published by the American Chemical Society.

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