Tired of upholstery that’s too hot or cold? Researchers have developed a smart fabric that can sense how warm a person’s body is and adjust how much heat it traps or releases.
University of Maryland researchers unveiled the new fabric in the journal Science.
They say its fibers are made from two synthetic materials coated in carbon nanotubes. These fibers expand or collapse depending on conditions.
When it’s hot and humid, the fibers allow heat to pass through. This cool’s the fabric’s surface. When it’s cold and dry, the fibers prevent heat from escaping. This warm’s the fabric’s surface.
Of course, cooling and moisture-wicking fabrics already exist. What makes this fabric unique is that it’s fibers adapt to environmental conditions and do so before passengers even realize they’re too hot or cold.
The researchers hope their work will lead to “comfort-adjusting clothing” and even upholstery.
“The human body is a perfect radiator. It gives off heat quickly,” said Min Ouvang, UMD physics professor and co-author of the research. “For all of history, the only way to regulate the radiator has been to take clothes off or put clothes on. But this fabric is a true bidirectional regulator.”
Once implemented, this smart fabric could make seat heaters obsolete.