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Nanotechnology Integrated in the Development of a New Clothing Material

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Karandeep Virdi

In recent years, the textile industry has witnessed a healthy growth rate. The evolution of technology coupled with growing awareness regarding these advancements have gradually made a strong impact on the textile market. Smart textiles have slowly started to establish itself in the market by incorporating technology that offers the wearer increased functionality. The demand for several smart textile products is on the rise worldwide owing to the expanding application base in the end user industries. The major share of demand comes from industrial sectors including, military & defense and healthcare. A recent report published by Allied Market Research offers significant insights related to the smart textiles market such as the market share, size and growth. Further, the current trends, growth opportunities and technological advancements are also discussed in the report.

Engineers discover plastic clothing that cools skin

Research and development activities have assisted the growth of the textile industry. Researchers, engineers, and scientists are constantly seeking and discovering innovative and cost-effective solutions in the textile sector.

Researchers and engineers at the Stanford University have developed a cost-effective plastic material that cools the wearer. This will reduce the need for energy-consuming air conditioning. According to the researchers who formulated the new clothing material, it has the potential to form the basis for garments that keeps people cool in hot climatic conditions without air conditioning. Yi Cui, associate professor, material science and engineering, Stanford, said,” If you can cool the person rather than the building where they work or live, that will save energy.”

The newly developed material enables the body to discharge heat in a couple of ways that will reduce the temperature by around 4 degrees Fahrenheit. The wearer will feel cooler than wearing cotton clothing. The group of researchers at Stanford, integrated nanotechnology, chemistry and photonics that provides polythene the properties of the clingy plastic that is used as kitchen wrap. Further, it facilitates thermal radiation, water and air to pass through and is opaque to visible light. The easier part was enabling infrared radiation to go through the material as it is the characteristic of the polyethylene food wrap. The research team at Stanford faced several difficulties in the entire process. However, they efficiently tackled every issue step by step.

Initially, the researchers discovered a variant of polyethylene that is widely used to make batteries. It has a specific nanostructure which is opaque to light and transparent to infrared radiation that allows heat escape the body. This offered a robust base material which that is opaque to visible light. Further, the engineers modified the industrial polyethylene by treating it with benign chemicals to allow water vapor molecules that evaporate through the nanopores in the plastic. The success with the initial processes offered the team a single-sheet material that complied with the three standard criteria for cooling fabric.

The research team is reluctantly working on the different details of the material such as adding more colors, texture and cloth-like characteristics to the material. Cui said, that if one wants to make textile, manufacturing should be cost-effective and efficient.

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