USA: Engineers at Stanford University claim to have developed a low-cost, plastic-based textile capable of cooling the body far more efficiently than current fabrics.

The new material is said to work by allowing the body to discharge heat in two ways that would make the wearer feel 2ºC cooler than if they wore cotton clothing.

The plastic material is said to cool by letting perspiration evaporate just like current fabrics, but also allows heat that the body emits as infrared radiation to pass through the plastic textile.


To develop their cooling textile, the Stanford researchers blended nanotechnology, photonics and chemistry to give polyethylene a number of characteristics desirable in clothing material. The polyethylene variant has a specific nanostructure that allows thermal radiation, air and water vapour to pass right through, and is opaque to visible light.

To make the material more fabric-like, they created a three-ply version: two sheets of treated polyethylene separated by a cotton mesh for strength and thickness.

Tests found that the cotton fabric made the skin surface 3.6ºF (2ºC) warmer than their cooling textile.