June 26, 2012 at 2:36 PM ET
Laundry detergent laced with teeny, tiny diamonds removes fats and dirt at lower temperatures than the blingless variety, according to new research.
The nanodiamonds -- pieces of carbon less than ten thousandths the diameter of a human hair – were added powder detergent to see if they could scrub out grime that typically requires hot water cycles to remove.
“We found that the 5 nanometer diamonds changed the way detergents behaved at 25 degrees centigrade (77 degrees Fahrenheit), doubling the amount of fat removed,” Andrew Marsh, a chemist at the University of Warwick in England, said in a news release.
“Even at temperatures as low as 15 degrees centigrade (59 degrees F), otherwise hard-to-remove fat could be solubilized from a test surface.”
Without the diamonds, water temperatures between 60 and 90 C (140 and 194 F) are required to get such stains out of laundry.
The lower temperature water afforded by the bling, the team notes, should help people save on their energy bills. Of course, they may have to spend that savings on the pricier detergent.
The research appears in the journal Applied Materials and Interfaces.
John Roach is a contributing writer for msnbc.com. To learn more about him, check out his website and follow him on Twitter. For more of our Future of Technology series, watch the featured video below.