Clothing fabric keeps you cool in the heat

November 16, 2017 by Lisa Zyga, feature

In the thermal regulation textile, the highly aligned nanofibers act as efficient heat transfer pathways. Credit: Gao et al. ©2017 American Chemical Society
(—Researchers have designed a thermal regulation textile that has a 55% greater cooling effect than cotton, which translates to cooler skin temperatures when wearing clothes made of the new fabric. The material can be fabricated using 3D printing and could provide a simple, low-cost way to cool the human body and reduce the need for air conditioning on hot days.

The researchers, led by Liangbing Hu at the University of Maryland, have published a paper on the new thermal regulation in a recent issue of ACS Nano.

"This is the first time that a highly thermally conductive textile is 3D-printed with excellent and greatly enhanced thermal conductivity, which can cool the body significantly, especially for office settings for energy savings," Hu told

The new textile is made of a nanofiber composite consisting of boron nitride and poly(vinyl alcohol), or PVA. Using 3D printing, the researchers fabricated nanofibers that are highly aligned, uniform, and densely packed together, and demonstrated that a woven from these nanofibers exhibits a strong cooling effect as well as good mechanical strength.

A key property of the next textile is its , which allows body heat to pass through the fabric by conduction to the ambient environment. In contrast, most conventional textile fibers such as cotton typically have a lower thermal conductivity, which traps more of a person's body heat inside their clothing.

Photos of the 3D-printed fibers and woven textile. Credit: Gao et al. ©2017 American Chemical Society

In simulations, the researchers showed that fabric made of the new nanofibers has a that is more than twice as high as cotton fabrics, and more than 1.5 times higher than PVA fabric without boron nitride nanofibers.

Several other types of thermal regulation textiles have recently been developed for maintaining a cool "microclimate" near the . For instance, moisture-wicking fabrics cool the body by removing excess moisture, but primarily work only in highly humid (or sweaty) circumstances. Some technologies use cold packs and others consume large amounts of energy. The researchers in the new study expect that the simple, low-cost nanofiber textile demonstrated here may offer one of the most practical solutions for keeping cool in hot weather.

In the future, the researchers plan to work toward realizing these applications.

"We are carrying out more research to further improve the performance through materials design and also working on scalable demonstrations using 3D printing," Hu said.

Explore further: Cool textiles to beat the heat

More information: Tingting Gao et al. "Three-Dimensional Printed Thermal Regulation Textiles." ACS Nano. DOI: 10.1021/acsnano.7b06295

Related Stories

Cool textiles to beat the heat

November 8, 2017

Air-conditioned buildings bring welcome relief to people coming in from the heat. But creating that comfort comes with a cost to our wallets and the environment in the form of increased energy bills and greenhouse gas emissions. ...

Fully integrated circuits printed directly onto fabric

November 8, 2017

Researchers have successfully incorporated washable, stretchable and breathable electronic circuits into fabric, opening up new possibilities for smart textiles and wearable electronics. The circuits were made with cheap, ...

Recommended for you

Researchers make coldest quantum gas of molecules

February 21, 2019

JILA researchers have made a long-lived, record-cold gas of molecules that follow the wave patterns of quantum mechanics instead of the strictly particle nature of ordinary classical physics. The creation of this gas boosts ...

Sculpting stable structures in pure liquids

February 21, 2019

Oscillating flow and light pulses can be used to create reconfigurable architecture in liquid crystals. Materials scientists can carefully engineer concerted microfluidic flows and localized optothermal fields to achieve ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.