Scientists have developed a new fabric that can regulate body temperature by automatically trapping or releasing heat to adjust with any change in environmental conditions.
Scientists at the University of Maryland produced the fabric using a specially engineered yarn comprising two different synthetic materials—one absorbs water and the other repels it.
The yarn is further coated with a conductive, lightweight metal (carbon nanotubes) that controls infrared radiation (heat) when conditions are warm and moist; or when conditions become cooler and drier.
This process is known “gating” of infrared radiation, which acts as a tunable blind to transmit or block heat.
“The human body is a perfect radiator. It gives off heat quickly. For all of history, the only way to regulate the radiator has been to take clothes off or put clothes on. But this fabric is a true bidirectional regulator,” said Min Ouyang, a co-researcher for the study.
“I think it’s very exciting to be able to apply this gating phenomenon to the development of a textile that has the ability to improve the functionality of clothing and other fabrics.”
Speaking on the innovative textile, Ray Baughman, a professor of chemistry at the University of Texas said, “This pioneering work provides an exciting new switchable characteristic for comfort-adjusting clothing”.
“Textiles were known that increase porosity in response to sweat or increasing temperature, as well as textiles that transmit the infrared radiation associated with body temperatures.
“However, no one before had found a way to switch both the porosity and infrared transparency of a textile so as to provide increased comfort in response to environmental conditions.”
Although the fabrics are not yet commercialized, researchers have confirmed that materials used for the base fibre are readily available, adding that the carbon coating can be easily added during the standard dyeing process.
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