Scientists in India have developed a way of infusing leather with lemongrass oil

At a time when materials are increasingly having dual functions, researchers at the Central Leather Research Institute in India are developing ‘smart leathers’. Now, a team there has established a method for imparting leather with a long-lasting lemongrass scent.

Raghava Rao and colleagues used emulsion polymerisation to encapsulate lemongrass oil because of its speed and scalability. Despite the volatile nature of essential oils, when encapsulated in a biopolymer made from chitosan and acrylic acid, the lemongrass scent persists for up to three years. With an average diameter of 117nm, the nanospheres were uniformly distributed within spaces across the leather matrix, and the resulting hydrophilicity and lipophilicity suggests the oils penetrated into the leather.

The nanospheres diffused into the leather matrix and deposited on the collagen fibres

The encapsulated lemongrass oil also exhibited antimicrobial properties against bacteria and fungi, one of the most sought after properties for various leather applications in case of contact with damp.

The researchers envisage these scented leathers being predominantly used in garments and upholstery.