Researchers at the University of Maryland (UMD) developed a new material that senses how warm a person's body is and automatically adjusts heat it traps or releases
Previous work in smarter clothing led to different solutions, such as a reversible jacket that was cooling on one side and warming on the other, so user can turn it inside out as needed. A higher-tech attempt to fix the problem was a "robotic" jacket that used machine learning algorithms to judge how hot or cold a person was and open or close vents accordingly. According to the researches, clothes made of the stuff would be able to automatically react to infrared radiation, which is the human body's main way of releasing heat, and let it pass through to the outside air.
The fibers are made of two different synthetic materials, one that absorbs water and one that repels it, both of which are then coated in carbon nanotubes. When water (i.e. sweat) gets absorbed by half of each fiber, it distorts the fibers so they come closer together. That allows the fabric to cool the wearer in two ways at once. First, it opens up the pores of the material, allowing more heat to escape. Secondly, the more active cooling comes from bringing the carbon nanotubes closer together. That changes the electromagnetic coupling, ‘tuning’ the nanotubes to absorb over 35 percent more infrared radiation and draw away more heat from the wearer.
This dynamic infrared gating makes the fabric the first ‘true bidirectional regulator’ of body heat, and it kicks in before the wearer even realizes they're getting too hot. It definitely does sound less cumbersome than an AI-enabled jacket, and according to the creators all the materials are already easily available on the market, while the carbon nanotube coating can be applied during the regular dying process. The research was published in the journal Science in February 2019.
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