Magical new nanotube-infused fabric cools you in summer, warms you in winter

university of maryland dynamic temperature fabric 190207142242 1 900x600
Faye Levine, University of Maryland

Very few items of clothing will keep you the perfect temperature all the time. You might pull on your comfortingly thick coat to keep you warm in the winter, but go into a house where the heat is cranked up and you’ll be shedding it in no time. The same is true for that cool summer T-shirt, which leaves you uncomfortably chilly the moment someone switches on the AC. Could a smart material give us the best of both worlds?

A new fabric being developed by scientists at the University of Maryland certainly gives us hope. Described by its creators as the world’s first textile to automatically change its properties to either trap or release heat depending on conditions, it promises to keep us at the optimal temperature year-round.

“Just like an automated window blind, our fabric can adaptively regulate thermal radiation in response to your personal comfort,” YuHuang Wang, professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Maryland, told Digital Trends. “We achieve this new functionality by engineering the fabric at the fiber level, making it a ‘switchable’ or dynamically responsive system.”

The yarn responsible for the new textile is created using fibers made of two different synthetic materials. One of these absorbs water, while the other one repels it. The strands are coated with conductive carbon nanotubes. As a result of materials in the fibers both resisting and absorbing water, they warp when exposed to humidity, such as a sweating body. This distortion opens pores in the fabric, creating a cooling effect. It also modifies the electromagnetic coupling between the carbon nanotubes in the coating — which either blocks or allows infrared radiation to travel through. Before people are even aware that they are getting too warm, their clothing will be cooling them down. If the person cools down too much, the same mechanism will trap in heat.

“Our fabric features self-powered, autonomous thermoregulation,” Wang said. “We think these unique features will be particularly attractive for runners, infants, and field workers, for example.”

The team is now working toward scaling up their production process prior to attempting to bring it to market. A research paper describing the project was recently published in the journal Science.

Emerging Tech

The rise and reign of Starship, the world’s first robotic delivery provider

Excited about the impending delivery robot revolution? If so, you need to get familiar with Starship Technologies, the company which pioneered the whole thing. Here's what you need to know.
Gaming

Apple Mac users should take a bite out of these awesome games

Contrary to popular belief, there exists a bevy of popular A-list games compatible for Mac computers. Take a look at our picks for the best Mac games available for Apple fans to enjoy.
Emerging Tech

Future smart clothes promise to keep you the perfect temperature at all times

Regulating your body temperature can sometimes be tough. Engineers from UC San Diego have developed heating and cooling wearable tech which could be embedded into future smart clothing.
Smart Home

It’s time for you to stop using dryer sheets. Here’s why

Dryer sheets might make your clothes feel softer and smell nicer, but there's a downside to using them. They reduce the absorbency of your towels, disable the wicking capabilities of activewear, and cause lint buildup.
Gaming

These are the must-have games that every Xbox One owner needs

More than four years into its life span, Microsoft's latest console is finally coming into its own. From Cuphead to Halo 5, the best Xbox One games offer something for players of every type.
News

Has purpose become a punchline? Among startups, the debate rages

Tech companies pledging to do good as they make money hand over fist has become a Silicon Valley punchline, but beneath the jeering, a real debate is playing out among startup founders and the investors who fund them.
Emerging Tech

Ford’s bipedal delivery robot can walk straight up to your doorstep

Autonomous wheeled delivery robots are seemingly everywhere in 2019. Agility Robotics' Digit robot takes a different approach: It promises to carry out its deliveries while walking on two legs.
Emerging Tech

This guy managed to squeeze an entire game console into a Game Boy cartridge

Popular YouTuber 3DSage has managed to compress an entire mobile games console inside a single original Game Boy cartridge. Check it out in all in its impressively miniaturized glory.
Emerging Tech

Scientists use an X-ray laser to create the loudest possible underwater sound

Researchers from Stanford University and the Department of Energy have produced the loudest sound possible to make under water. Here's how they managed to create it — and why they did it.
Digital Trends Live

Digital Trends Live: Huawei updates, Starlink launch, and Pac-Man’s birthday

On this episode of DT Live, we discuss the ongoing Huawei saga, Amazon’s social games for workers, Ford's partnership with a robotics company, the Starlink satellite launch, Pac-Man’s birthday, and more.
Emerging Tech

Las Vegas officials bet big on Elon Musk’s Boring Company

Elon Musk’s Boring Company has just been awarded a $48.6 million contract by Las Vegas to build a high-speed transportation system beneath the city’s enormous convention center, and it could be ready by early 2020.
Emerging Tech

Airbus shows off the futuristic interior of its autonomous flying taxi

Airbus has given us the first look inside its single-seat flying taxi. The absence of controls in the Vahana electric aircraft is a reflection of its autonomous capabilities, so you can just sit back and enjoy the ride.
Emerging Tech

I mainlined a bag of liquid vitamins — for science

Healthy people are signing up for treatments that are typically saved for patients stuck in hospital beds. Known as nutrient IV therapy, the treatment entails pumping vitamins, minerals, and fluids directly into the bloodstream, bypassing…
Emerging Tech

Japanese spacecraft Hayabusa 2 aborts marker drop mission

The Hayabusa 2 spacecraft's mission to drop a reflective marker on the surface of asteroid Ryugu has been aborted. The Japanese team was considering a second touchdown on the asteroid to collect more materials, but this now seems unlikely.