At Stanford University a new fabric has been developed that lets body heat escape unlike any other. While there are a lot of materials on the market that were designed to pass sweat through to quickly evaporate on the surface, Stanford’s flexible plastic textile also lets infrared energy escape as well. Typical clothing traps heat, which, besides showing off, is a big reason a lot of people wear very little while exercising. The researchers claim if made into clothing, the fabric would make a person feel about four degrees cooler than wearing cotton on a hot day.
It’s made of polyethylene, the same stuff Saran Wrap is made of, but was reformulated to let air and water through while being opaque to visible light. In its common state, polyethylene already lets infrared penetrate through it, so making the material porous to air and water was the actual challenge. The team used an already available polyethylene that is transparent to infrared but which blocks visible light and changed the nano-scale structure of it be breathable as well. Layering this material with a cotton mesh in the middle gives it the strength necessary to be used as a fabric.
The researchers hope the fabric will become common for people living in hot climates and maybe even reduce the need for air conditioning, and so help lower worldwide energy usage.