Researchers at the University of Maryland have developed a new fabric that can automatically regulate the amount of heat that passes through it, making it potentially useful for clothing and other applications.
Physics Professor Min Ouyang and Biochemistry Professor YuHuang Wang have created a fabric that dynamically regulates heat passing through it.
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Despite decades of innovation in fabrics with high-tech thermal properties that keep marathon runners cool or alpine hikers warm, there has never been a material that changes its insulating properties in response to the environment. Until now. University of Maryland researchers have created a fabric that can automatically regulate the amount of heat that passes through it. When conditions are warm and moist, such as those near a sweating body, the fabric allows infrared radiation (heat) to pass through. When conditions become cooler and drier, the fabric reduces the heat that escapes. The development was reported in the February 8, 2019 issue of the journal Science. The researchers created the fabric from specially engineered yarn coated with a conductive metal. Under hot, humid conditions, the strands of yarn compact and activate the coating, which changes the way the fabric interacts with infrared radiation. They refer to the action as “gating” of infrared radiation, which acts as a tunable blind to transmit or block heat. “This is the first technology that allows us to dynamically gate infrared radiation,” said YuHuang Wang, a professor of chemistry and biochemistry at UMD and one of the paper’s corresponding authors who directed the studies.