Graphene-coated jacket first step towards bulletproof and intelligent clothing
Advanced sportswear brand Vollebak introduces a reversible graphene-coated jacket, which is the first step in their goal to create bionic intelligent and bulletproof clothing.
Graphene is the thinnest possible layer of graphite, only one atom thick. This super material was discovered in 2004 and has since been used in anything from paint to shoes. However, the full potential of graphene is still a mystery. Knowing that, Vollebak, which earlier released glow-in-the-dark jackets, now releases graphene coated jackets as a science experiment. “Knowing that the only thing that will ultimately limit what can be done with graphene is our collective imagination, the next logical step for us is getting graphene out into the hands of early adopters to see what happens,” they state on their website.
The jacket is made by turning raw graphite into graphene nanoplatelets. The small stacks of graphene are blended with polyurethane to create an extremely thin membrane, which, in turn, is bonded to nylon to create a new material. Because graphene is only one atom thick, it does not add to the weight of the fabric.
The graphene completely changes nylon’s mechanical and chemical properties. Normally, a nylon fabric can’t conduct heat or energy, but with graphene, it can. The first prototypes of the jacket were so conductive they could be used to light up a light bulb. As it wouldn’t be very safe to wear a jacket like that, Vollebak decided to increase the material’s resistance to electrical currents by spreading out the nanoplatelets. The current jacket still conducts energy, but on a lower and safe level.
In addition to energy, graphene also conducts heat, better than any other material. Therefore, the jacket will help to equalise your skin temperature, spreading it from warm parts of your body to cold ones. The closer the material is to your skin, the more effective it is at regulating the temperature, increasing it by an average of 2 degrees Celsius.
Since it is hard to experiment with something that only behaves one way, Vollebak’s graphene-coated jacket is fully reversible. One side is coated entirely in graphene, with a gun-metal grey colour. The other side is made from high-strength, high-stretch nylon and is matt black in colour. The pockets are also reversible, laser-cut with such precision that Vollebak says that the edges can be left raw without any stitching. All seams in the jacket are sealed for waterproofness.
For Vollebak, the graphene-coated jacket is the first step towards their end goal of creating bionic clothing that is both intelligent and bullet-proof, though they warn on their website that the current version of the jacket will not stop a bullet (you need 10 layers of graphene for that, and the technology to do so is not here yet). Aside from that, Vollebak encourages you to go wild and help discover graphene’s full potential.