The cold spell in the U.S. has only reminded people that clothing is meant to keep wearers warm. A team of scientist from Stanford University has taken this function of clothing to a whole new level, so much so that their invention could possibly make a significant dent in the consumption of global energy.
The scientists have developed a high-tech fabric with a rather complex concept. The textile is coated with a network of miniscule, invisible metallic wires which will not be felt by the wearers. With the help of these wires, the garment’s thermal properties will be boosted without compromising on the functionality of the apparel.
The restraint of regular clothing is this: although it manages to minimize the amount of heat that is lost through air or contact, it is unable to capture the radiant body heat which humans naturally emit.
With the help of a kind of electromagnetic energy, a Mylar overcoat manages to contain body heat but makes it rather uncomfortable for the wearer owing to the fact that the material fails to breathe. The researchers, in a recent paper on the topic, explain that in a Mylar coat, the aluminum film and plastic sheet are not vapor permeable.
Nanotechnology - often called the science of tiny things - is the solution to this problem. Fabrics coated with nanotechnology have already been used to make clothing block sunlight, shed water, and kill microbes. The scientists at Stanford reveal that by coating fabrics with silver nanowires in a chemical bath, the kind of clothing produced will help the human body trap its natural heat but still allow the fabric to breathe just like uncoated fabrics. This nanowire coated fabric can also be washed easily.