This year we're going to see a lot of smart clothes capable of measuring heart rate and muscle contractions, but the future is even more exciting. Using nanowires future clothing will be able to seal in heat and even generate it.
Scientists at Stanford University have created a set of textile fibres with nanowires. This flexible material, made of silver nanowires and carbon nanotubes, is able to contain heat as well as create it.
The strands are so fine, as small as 200 nanometers, that the wavelength of infrared which carries heat can't escape with its 9-micrometre heft. But since the wholes are big enough for moisture to escape the clothing will remain breathable and dry.
Since the fibres are also conductive it was found that a current of electricity caused them to heat up. This means gloves, or any clothing or insulating material, could be used create heat and then hold that heat in. For those that get cold easily or live in extreme climates this is big news.
But beyond clothes there are more uses, the paper points out: "Metallic nanowire cloth has great potential to reduce the energy used on indoor heating because of its personal thermal management capabilities while retaining the wearability and breathability of normal cloth." This potential has seen huge investment from the US government as it tries to lower waste energy and improve its green agenda.
The scientists concluded: "This nanowire cloth can efficiently warm human bodies and save hundreds of watts per person as compared to traditional indoor heaters." We can't wait.