Metro Science: Futuristic fabric, smart windows, and a new Alzheimer's test
The hottest runway look for F/W 2035: Reversible temperature fabrics, the new line from Stanford University materials engineers.
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Step aside, Kanye West. The next big thing in fashion comes from a group of Stanford University materials engineers. The team has developed a reversible fabric that keeps the body cool when needed and heats it up when things get chilly.
This same team of engineers developed NanoPE, a fabric based on plastic wrap that has been shown to keep body temperature down. Now they are unveiling a reversible version. A copper layer traps body heat, warming up to 4 degrees Celsius. On the flip side the cooling plastic can lower temperature by 3 C.
Ready for its close-up?
Not quite. The plastic-based fabric might appeal to the fashion-forward set. But the team is working on making a fibre-based version that looks and feels more like traditional textiles.
These materials could have broad environmental impacts by reducing energy consumption. Lead researcher Yi Cui hopes that cooling people, instead of buildings, will cut down on air conditioning use, he told Popular Science. Presumably the same could be said for the new heating version. Plus, spending big on clothes could save on energy bills.
SCIENCE STORY: BRIGHT IDEA
Windows may let the light in, but what else are they good for, really? A team of chemical engineers has presented a prototype in Nature Materials for smart windows: They change shade to block the glare and also absorb energy, much like a solar panel. It’s like transitions lenses for your house, but better.
SCIENCE STORY: NEW ALZHEIMER'S TEST
An Alzheimer’s blood test is another step closer, researchers reported in Nature online. Currently spinal taps or brain scans are needed to find the protein plaque that can lead to the disease.
SOUND SMART: Pyrolyzer
DEFINITION: A tool that uses heat to break complex molecules into constituent parts.
USE IT IN A SENTENCE: The school dance chaperone threatened to bust out the pyrolyzer if any couples got too close.