Today’s Solutions: December 03, 2023

An innovative new invention has recently come out of Duke University. A team of material scientists recruited physics rather than electronics, to create a ventilation system that can help regulate body temperature. The lightweight material catches thermal energy when dry to power the opening of the vents when sweating starts to occur.

How does it work?

The paper, published in Science Advances, discusses their methodology in detail. The team used nylon as a starting base due to its cheap, lightweight, and soft features. This was combined with silver, allowing for heat retention and movement of the vents. This was achieved through the silver contracting when up against a humid environment.

After carrying out a series of tests, the patch was seen to help with temperature control on both the hotter and colder sides of the spectrum. The ventilation system allows for 16 percent warmer conditions when the flaps are closed, and 14 percent cooler when the flaps are open.

What can it be used for?

The material is great as a way for people carrying out the physical activity to cool down. “People who are skiing or hiking in colder weather usually wear layers so they can adjust how much heat their clothing is trapping as their body heats up,” said Po-Chun Hsu, author of the paper. “But by strategically placing patches of a material that can let out heat when a person is sweating, one could imagine making a one-piece-fits-all textile.”

Future technology

The team hopes to make the vents as small as possible in the future, while maintaining the effectiveness of the material. “I expect that if we can find the right laser cutting method to create very small flaps and attach the patch to clothing, we can create this effect without looking like we’re wearing a costume,” said Hsu. “With enough work, this kind of material could look very similar to what we’re wearing today.”

Source study: Science AdvancesMetalized polyamide heterostructure as a moisture-responsive actuator for multimodal adaptive personal heat management

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