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Nanowire Fabric: Warmest Winter Material Yet?

Developed by scientists at Stanford University, this super warm nanocloth material innovation could make winter temperatures seem pleasant thanks to a flexible coating of invisible ‘nanowires’ that reflects human body heat.

To create nanocloth, cotton fabric is dipped into a solution of silver nanowire particles. The result is a conductive network embedded within the material itself. Through various experiments, Stanford’s scientists settled on an optimum solution concentration, resulting in a particle arrangement within the material that traps up to 90% radiated body heat. (Standard cotton clothing by comparison allows around 80% of body heat to escape) At the same time, the coating is porous enough that water (i.e. perspiration) can escape, ensuring the material’s breathability and suitability for winter clothing. As an added benefit, the embedded metal in the fabric also conducts electricity so the fabric can hook into an electrical source, such as a battery, and become a kind of electronic blanket.

The Stanford team hope their invention will ultimately save consumers money. The technology is relatively inexpensive – the coating of an average article of clothing costs around $1 (USD) – and could significantly reduce household costs by reducing the need for excessive residential heating.

The team are currently optimizing their results for the market. And for their next material innovation, they are looking at an opposite challenge – a material to keep you cool in extremely hot temperatures.

Their nanocloth research was published this month in the journal Nano Letters.