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High-tech cloth could make summer days a breeze

Tiny pore-pocked plastic lets heat out yet blocks light

2:00pm, September 1, 2016
polyester, cotton, nanoPE

COOL CLOTH Traditional textiles like polyester and cotton tend to trap body heat, but a plastic material called nanoPE lets heat escape. Researchers are looking at ways of using the material to make a high-tech fabric.

Plastic cling wrap with nano-sized pores could give “cool clothes” a new meaning.

The material lets heat escape, instead of trapping it like traditional fabrics, Stanford University materials scientist Yi Cui and colleagues report in the Sept. 2 Science. It could help people keep cool in hot weather, Cui says, and even save energy by reducing the use of air conditioning.

“It’s a very bold new idea,” says MIT physicist Svetlana Boriskina, who wrote an accompanying commentary. Demand for the new material could be far-reaching, she says. “Every person who wears clothes could be a potential user of this product.”

Current cooling devices include wearable fans and wicking fabrics; both rely on evaporation to cool human skin. But skin also sheds heat in another way — as infrared radiation. Clothing holds this heat close to the body, Cui says. If infrared

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