Hot Hands

A team from the University of Massachusetts Amherst have developed a way to create electrically heated cloth.

Materials scientist Trisha Andrew explains they took a plain pair of cotton gloves and used a vapor deposition method for nano-coating fabric to coat the fingers in a polymer known as poly (3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene), or PEDOT. A coin battery weighing 1.8 grams (0.0039 lbs.) provides power to the gloves, but not enough power to pass through the skin and cause harm.

“We took a pair of cotton gloves and coated the fingers to allow a small amount of current to pass through, so they heat up," said Andrew. "It’s regular old-fashioned cotton cloth. We chose to make a pair of gloves because the fingers require a high curvature that allows us to show that our material is really flexible."

An image of the gloves coated in PEDOT. Image Credit: UMass Amherst

The test gloves the team made kept fingers warm for about eight hours, though switching to a rechargeable battery was suggested, as it would enable longer use. They also continued to work after being ripped, repaired, charged over night, and even when submerged in water. The last scenario is especially useful as it means the gloves won't shock anyone wearing them while in the rain or snow.

Gloves aren't the only clothing the team is experimenting with, though, as they've also coated cotton yarn often used in sweaters. The material yielded favorable results, suggesting the coating method can be used for more than small articles of clothing.

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