Scientists Design Climate-Controlled Clothing | AIChE

Scientists Design Climate-Controlled Clothing


A new coating that blocks heat while letting visible light through could be used to design thin-but-cozy fabrics.

The metallic coating is fabricated in a mesh-like pattern, with nanopores that let visible light pass through while trapping infrared wavelengths. Unlike other thin materials that trap body heat, such as Mylar, the coating is flexible, breathable, and transparent — making it possible to design fabrics of many different colors around the technology. Not only could the coating be used to make clothing with heating or cooling properties, says study author Lili Cai, a mechanical engineer at the Univ. of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, it might also have applications in defense. Because the material blocks the transmission of heat, it could be used as camouflage against thermal cameras.

As climate change increases the frequency of heat waves, it will become ever more important to keep human bodies cool, Cai says. By the same token, failures of the electrical grid like the one that occurred across Texas in February 2021 can leave people vulnerable to hypothermia in their own homes.

“What I want to do is develop more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly techniques that can provide heating and cooling effects without consuming much energy,” Cai says.

This new coating isn’t...

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