This New Fabric Can Keep People Cool in the Heat

Enjoying the summer weather in style may soon be easier with this innovative material.

New fabric hopes to keep people cool in the heat

(Olga Vasilyeva /

Have you ever imagined that your simple T-shirt could cool you down by up to 41 degrees Fahrenheit (5 degrees Celsius) on those stifling and sticky summer days? Thanks to a recent discovery, that possibility is getting closer, and may soon be found hanging from the racks of your favorite clothing brands.

While there are many alternatives that manage to keep the body warm, this amazing invention aims to offer real relief for those craving ways to feel comfortable and fresh in the outdoors on extremely hot days. 

Its inventors, engineers Ma Yaoguang of Zhejiang University and Tao Guangming of Huazhong University of Science and Technology in China, took a completely innovative approach. They designed a special textile that can absorb body heat and re-emit its energy into space as mid-infrared radiation (MIR).

This textile cools both the objects and their surroundings through a technique that is known as radiative cooling, Science Magazine reveals. This means that even when it looks like you are wearing a regular shirt, you are actually wearing a device that works like a mirror.

Although the technique is not new and has been used for years to design roofs, plastic films, wood and special paints, its use in the textiles industry for the benefit of wearers is what makes it so exciting and novel. This fabric is made of a polylactic acid and synthetic fiber blend with titanium dioxide nanoparticles. It also reflects UV, visible and Near Infrared light (NIR), which contribute to the cooling process as well, news site Republic World details.

Up until now, the available alternatives tackling heat through clothes were limited to suggestions on wearing light colors since these don’t absorb sunlight like dark colors do, and choosing breathable fabrics like cotton and linen. But even when these tips can actually help you chill, they are simply not enough in the hottest seasons, and in locations with extreme temperatures.

Research conducted at Stanford University in 2017 had already managed to cool the wearer by three degrees Celsius. But this previous trial was limited, as the fabric used needed to be extremely thin, which raised doubts regarding its durability.  

Researchers still need to test the new approach to determine how effectively the new fabric cools while the wearers are standing or walking, and not directly facing the sky, like in their trials. They also need to examine and measure how well it works when T-shirts are not in close contact with the skin, Science Magazine points out. But this discovery still represents a real advance.

According to Evelyn Wang, a mechanical engineer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, quoted in TWL News, “This kind of approach has advantages because it can enable a use of a broader range of materials and feels much more like cotton, which is important for the user.”

Inventors Yaoguang and Guangming are now looking out for textile manufacturers and clothing brands that are interested in using their fabric. They estimate that the new material will increase clothing manufacturing costs by just 10 percent. “We can make it with mass production, which means everybody can get a T-shirt… and the cost is basically the same as their old stuff,” Yaoguang told Science Magazine. “It can benefit everybody.”

So if you are an athlete or simply someone that has to deal with extremely high temperatures, roll your sleeves up for a little longer and be patient because your days of feeling hot and bothered may be coming to an end!

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