A team of researchers from the National Graphene Institute at the University of Manchester has designed smart adaptive clothing that can lower the wearer’s body temperature in hot climates.
They achieved this by exploiting the many thermal properties and flexibility of graphene.
The ability to control thermal radiation is key for several critical applications such as managing body temperature in climates of excessive temperatures.
“Thermal blankets are a common example used for this purpose. However, maintaining these functions when the environment warms up or cools down has been an exceptional challenge, “said Professor Coskun Kocabas, who led the research.
The University of Manchester has a long history of graphene. It was in 2004 when the thick graphene of an atom was isolated and explored for the first time. Today, its potential applications are limitless, including thermal clothing.
The successful demonstration of the modulation of optical properties on different forms of textiles can take advantage of the ubiquitous use of fibrous architectures.
This can allow new technologies to work in the infrared and in other regions of the electromagnetic spectrum for applications such as textile displays, communication, adaptive space suits, and fashion.
This research was based on previous work by the same teams using graphene to create thermal camouflage that could deceive infrared cameras. The new fabric has a key advantage, however: it can be integrated into existing high-production textile materials such as cotton.
To demonstrate this quality, the team designed a prototype in a t-shirt that allows the wearer to project invisible coded messages readable by infrared cameras.
The results show in a timely manner the possibility of transforming the exceptional optical properties of graphene into innovative technologies. The demonstrated capacities cannot be achieved with conventional materials.
Use in satellites.
“The next step for this research area is to respond to the need for dynamic thermal management of satellites in Earth orbit,” says Kocabas.
Orbiting satellites undergo excess temperatures when they face the sun, and they freeze in the shade. Our technology could enable dynamic thermal management of satellites by controlling thermal radiation and regulating the temperature of satellites on demand.