Yi Cui Group - Stanford University
Robots & Machines

A New “Supermaterial T-Shirt” Can Keep Your Skin Remarkably Cool

Around 96% of infrared (aka heat) can get through the material.

Supermaterials

One of the things that spurred this technologically-inclined society of ours—that helped it to get its footing—is clothing. Indeed, one of the starting points of the Industrial Revolution was the cotton gin, and we’ve been upgrading textiles ever since.

Even now, our clothes are getting upgrades. Take this latest development, for example: Scientists from Stanford University have created a new type of cloth that cools far better than other types of textiles.

Cotton shirts can increase your temperature by 6.1 degrees, while plastic textiles increase it by 5.2 degrees. But this new textile will add just 1.4 degrees to your body temperature.

If that seems like playing with small numbers to you, know that even a change of a few degrees to building temperature can increase or decrease your energy bill by a huge amount. Imagine not having to adjust the thermostat, but just wearing these new shirts.

Passing Through

The trick behind this new “magic textile” is its ability to allow things to pass through it. Like typical cotton, it allows the body to breathe, permitting water vapor to escape through the cloth’s pores.

But unlike these cotton shirts, infrared radiation can also escape. Around 96 percent of infrared (aka heat) can get through the material. That’s because the textile is built like kitchen cling-wrap, having the same effect as light through glass.

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Yi Cui Group – Stanford University

But that’s not to say the shirts are perfect. They’re actually too much like cling-wrap, having a plastic-like feel to the skin. Also, it’s confined to one color as of now: wax-paper beige (not the prettiest thing ever). That’s because even the process of dyeing can affect the molecular properties of the shirt. But still, it’s a notable beginning.

The study is described in the journal Science. 

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