High-tech fabrics could keep soldiers warm in cool climates


high-tech fabrics

Scientists conducting a research for creating high-tech fabrics to heat up when powered and that capture sweat. These fabrics conceivably make their way to consumer clothing in the future.

Lead researcher Yi Cui, Ph.D., at Stanford University and his team synthesized very fine silver nanowires, and then placed a network of the wires on cotton. The researchers heat the fabric by applying power to the silver nanowires.

silver nanowires

Researchers working to extend this silver nanowire idea to fabrics suitable for military uniforms, such as polyester and a cotton/nylon blend. The Army team found that applying a mere 3 volts to inch by inch test swatches of these fabrics.

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The output of a battery raises the temperature by 100 degrees Fahrenheit in just one minute. If these experimental fabrics used in uniforms, soldiers could dial up or down the voltage to vary the amount of heat their uniforms produce to match the weather conditions. The heat uniforms could thinner and lighter, an advantage for soldiers to carry heavy loads and walk long distances.

The scientists also incorporating a layer of sweat-absorbing hydrogel particles made of polyethylene glycol or poly (N-isopropylacrylamide). These particles might stop other layers in the fabrics from getting wet, which would keep soldiers comfortable during missions. After they return to base, the soldiers release the sweat from their uniforms.

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The silver nanowires on the fabrics can withstand repeated laundering, and now researchers working out how to apply the hydrogel equally durable. Also, investigate how the silver mesh and hydrogel interact with each other.

Researchers optimize the fabric for gloves. They might extend the technology to clothing.